“We needed a guy who..had a sense of humor”: No, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt Were Never Close to Stealing Brendan Fraser’s Role in The Mummy

Tom Cruise would go on to star in the disastrous The Mummy reboot of 2017.

Tom Cruise, Brendan Fraser in The Mummy, Brad Pitt
credit : wikimedia commons

SUMMARY

  • Oscar-winner Brendan Fraser starred in Stephen Sommers' The Mummy franchise in the early 2000s.
  • Fraser's performance as Rick O'Connell was the highlight of the action adventure reboot.
  • Director Stephen Sommers debunked the rumors that Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt were considered for the role before Fraser.
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Tom Cruise is known for his action-hero persona in Hollywood. The actor has played many roles which has allowed him to flex his acting muscles as well as enabled him to perform death-defying stunts. He has headlined major franchises such as Mission: Impossible, and Top Gun, and has featured in one-off action blockbusters such as Knight and Day.

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Cruise was also part of the disastrous The Mummy reboot in 2017, which was a box office failure and officially shut down the Dark Universe before it even began. However, before he came on board the ill-fated franchise, he was rumored to be in the running for the original films starring Brendan Fraser along with Brad Pitt as well. Director Stephen Sommer, however, debunked the rumors.

Tom Cruise And Brad Pitt Were Never Considered For The Mummy

Brendan Fraser as Rick O'Connell in The Mummy
Brendan Fraser in The Mummy

Stephen Sommers was tapped to helm Universal’s reboot of the 1932 horror franchise The Mummy after the film was in development for years. Many filmmakers and writers were reportedly attached to the project but they were either too expensive or too dark for the studio. Sommers, however, pitched an action-adventure film instead of a pure horror and was hired.

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The film starred Brendan Fraser as Rick O’Connell, the protagonist who leads a group of archeologists into the tomb of Imhotep and accidentally awakens the Mummy. The film was a huge success, earning $417 million against an $80 million budget, and was commissioned two sequels, The Mummy Returns and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.

While Fraser’s performance was perfect for the film and fans cannot imagine anyone else, there were rumors at the time that Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt were offered the role of Rick O’Connell. Other actors such as Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were also rumored to be considered.

Tom Cruise in a pivotal scene from 2017's The Mummy reboot
Tom Cruise in The Mummy (2017)

However, Stephen Sommers revealed that Fraser was always the right person for the role. In an interview with The Daily Beast, he said,

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“I read somewhere recently that we originally went to Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt – but no. My editor read the first draft and right away said, ‘Your lead guy is Brendan Fraser’. We needed a guy who could throw a punch, take a punch, had a wink in his eye and a sense of humor, and there weren’t a lot of actors at that point who did that. Brendan can make fun of himself and goes all out. He was the only one considered from the get-go. [Universal] weren’t looking for a star; the title was the star.”

Tom Cruise would later go on to star in the ill-fated 2017 The Mummy reboot. The film was supposed to be the start of a Dark Universe franchise that included crossovers from Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Invisible Man. However, the failure of the film at the box office led to the cancellation of the shared universe concept.

Stephen Sommers Had No Studio Interference While Shooting The Mummy

Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz in the climax of The Mummy
A still from The Mummy

Rarely do filmmakers get final cut privileges in Hollywood’s studio system. From production to distribution, big studios handle all of it and have control over the final product. Hence, many filmmakers from Martin Scorsese to Zack Snyder have often complained about studio interference in their films, leading the final film to not be exactly what they wanted.

However, the Brendan Fraser starrer, The Mummy reportedly did not have any interference despite its $80 million budget. According to Stephen Sommers, the film was made at a time when Universal Studios had a change in management, and The Mummy was a film that was approved by the previous group, and hence the new executives did not care for what happened (via The Daily Beast),

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“[The new boss’s] attitude was ‘if this movie is a bomb, blame it on the last guys’. They never gave me notes—and nobody from the studio ever showed up while shooting. They just let me do my thing.”

Sommers also debunked many rumors about the film’s arduous production struggles with sandstorms and dangerous locations. He mentioned that the sandstorms were more ‘magical’ than threatening and that the entire cast and crew were protected in the film.

The Mummy is currently streaming on Peacock.

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Written by Nishanth A

Articles Published: 967

Nishanth A is a Media, English and Psychology graduate from Bangalore. He is an avid DC fanboy and loves the films of Christopher Nolan. He has published over 400 articles on FandomWire. When he's not fixating on the entire filmography of a director, he tries to write and direct films.