“A uniquely non-sexual love story between two men”: Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, and Johnny Depp Were Nearly Cast in One of the Most Iconic Morgan Freeman Movies

“A uniquely non-sexual love story between two men": Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, and Johnny Depp Were Nearly Cast in One of the Most Iconic Morgan Freeman Movies

Morgan Freeman was cast as Ellis “Red” Redding in one of the best films in modern cinema, The Shawshank Redemption. Freeman got the role at the recommendation of producer Liz Glotzer, who ignored the original text material which described the character as a ‘white Irishman’.

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The movie directed by Frank Darabont was based on the Stephen King novella, Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption.

Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption
Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption

The film was a commercial failure, but it managed to win over the critics. Surprisingly, it is now the top-rated film of all time on IMDB. The lead role of Andy Dufresne was played by Tim Robbins. Interestingly, Robbins and Freeman were not the first choices for their respective roles.

Also Read: ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ Escape Had A Major Plothole- Andy Dufresne Digging A Secret Tunnel For 19 Years Still Troubles Many Fans


The Director Sent Out A Casting Call Before Fixing On Morgan Freeman And Tim Robbins

Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption
Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption

One of the lesser-known facts about the movie was the number of Hollywood talents, who were considered for its roles. At one point, Tom Cruise attended the table readings of the script. However, Cruise rejected the role of Andy, citing concerns about the inexperience of the director, Frank Darabont.

Other top contenders for Andy were Tom Hanks, who was busy at the time with Forrest Gump, and Kevin Costner, who opted to star in Waterworld instead.


Charlie Sheen loved the script so much so that he sent in an audition tape for the role of Red. However, Castle Rock, the producers, rejected Sheen for the role. Johnny Depp and Nicolas Cage were also considered at different stages. Ultimately, Darabont went with Tim Robbins, as he was impressed with his performance in Jacob’s Ladder, released in 1990.

Some legendary actors also missed out on Morgan Freeman’s role of Red. Darabont initially considered two of his favorite actors, Gene Hackman and Robert Duvall, both of whom were unavailable at the time.


Clint Eastwood and Paul Newman were also discussed as potential choices by the studio. Rob Reiner, who loved the script, was willing to pay $2.5 million for the rights and wanted to direct the film with Harrison Ford and Tom Cruise as leads.

There were also a number of actors who dropped out of other roles in The Shawshank Redemption. This included Brad Pitt, who was initially cast as Tommy Williams, and James Gandolfini, who rejected the role of Bogs, a prison rapist.


Also Read: “I’ll do this film for f–king scale”: Charlie Sheen Was So Desperate For One Movie Role He Was Ready to Take the Minimum Salary For the Job

The Film That Interested So Many Actors Couldn’t Succeed Commercially

Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption
The Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption has a special place in the hearts of movie lovers, however, the theatrical fate of the movie was unfortunate. At the time of release, the movie was deemed as just another prison drama, a genre that was declining in popularity at the time.


But the movie explored more complex themes including friendship and hope. Tim Robbins once described the film as “a uniquely non-sexual love story between two men” (via IMDB).

The name of the film also confused audiences. Although the name of Stephen King’s novella was edited out to avoid people confusing it as a biopic, the confusion remained. The film also had strong competition that year, especially from Tom Hanks’ Forrest Gump, which proved that Hanks made a worthy decision to drop out. Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction was also another outstanding release of that year.


Also Read: “First of all, what’s your name?”: Denzel Washington Got a Rude Reply from Morgan Freeman After Trying to Get Into a Sword Fight With The Dark Knight Star

The lack of female characters in the movie also largely affected the film’s appeal to a wider audience. Nevertheless, the film got the much-deserved recognition eventually.


Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins starrer The Shawshank Redemption is now available for streaming on TBS.

Source: IMDB


Written by Hashim Asraff

Hashim, Entertainment Writer. With over 500 published articles on FandomWire, he covers a wide range of topics from celebrity life to comic book movies. He holds a Masters degree in Sociology and his expertise proves invaluable in handling sensitive news. His passion for crime investigation thrillers has turned him into a detective, exploring the darkest corners of the internet during his research.