Movies are a mixture of talent, art, skill, business, and stupid luck. For a fascinating example of all of the above, I direct your attention to a great article at Shortlist (via The Playlist) about the history of Face/Off. As it turns out before the movie was made by John Woo with stars Nicolas Cage and John Travolta, it was very nearly directed by Demolition Man filmmaker Marco Brambilla and a pre-Pirates of the Caribbean Johnny Depp.

I will let Shortlist tell the story from there:

Around this time, Paramount were trying to turn 27-year-old Johnny Depp into a movie star. The studio said that they would only agree to including Nicolas Cage – who wanted to be in the film – if Depp could star opposite him. After finally reading the script, however, Depp refused to take part. Having read the title he thought the film would be about hockey. He was disappointed when he discovered that it was not about hockey. He was out – and with him so was Brambilla.

In sum: Face/Off would have starred Nicolas Cage and Johnny Depp, except it was not about hockey. Depp wanted to make a movie about hockey (and possibly people also getting their faces ripped off and swapped) and then when he discovered Face/Off was only about people getting their faces ripped off and swapped but not also about hockey, he moved on to other projects. (The year Face/Off came out, Depp instead appeared in The Brave and Donnie Brasco.)

Can you just imagine? A Face/Off where Depp pretended to be Cage and Cage pretended to be Depp? The mind boggles at the possibilities. If only the screenwriters had figured out a way to have the whole movie take place at a New York Rangers playoff game, we could have had something so beautiful. Alas.

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