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The Watchmen Character Tom Cruise Wanted To Play, According To Zack Snyder

Zack Snyder's "Watchmen" flick could have looked drastically different if Tom Cruise played one key role. One of the most divisive films in Snyder's filmography, "Watchmen" didn't have a huge A-list cast, despite boasting a budget north of $130 million– rare for a blockbuster of its caliber. However, if Snyder had gotten his wish, Cruise, Hollywood's last great action star, would have had a pivotal role in the superhero flick. While speaking with Josh Horowitz for "Happy Sad Confused," the director revealed that he wanted the "Top Gun: Maverick" actor for Ozymandias, a role that didn't interest the actor. "Tom wanted to play Rorschach, which obviously he could have done, but we had Jackie [Earle Haley] already, and Jackie's unbelievable." 

The role of Ozymandias ultimately went to Matthew Goode, a rising actor at the time. It's interesting how Cruise, known for his mostly safe and calculated roles, was interested in playing Rorschach, one of the most complicated and devious characters in the "Watchmen" mythos. Rorschach is also masked for most of his scenes, meaning audiences wouldn't have seen Cruise's face for most of the film's runtime. For what it's worth, Haley was praised for his nefarious turn as Rorschach, with /Film commending his performance in an 8.5/10 review of "Watchmen" in 2009.

While it's hard to imagine anyone other than Haley stepping into the shoes of Rorschach, Snyder does think Cruise could have been an interesting addition to the roster. "I certainly would have considered Tom in retrospect, if I hadn't had Jackie," Snyder told Horowitz. 

Tom Crusie would have been a great Ozymandias

"Watchmen" could have been a different beast altogether if Tom Cruise had starred in the film. One of the most bankable actors of all time, Cruise's inclusion in the film, especially as the non-masked Ozymandias, could have elevated the film's financial viability. "Watchmen" grossed shy of $190 million worldwide, emerging as one of Zack Snyder's biggest box office flops. Despite poor financial receipts, "Watchmen" stands out as a cult favorite for Snyder fans and is one of the most interesting and bold films in the superhero canon.

In a chat with Newsday in 2009, Snyder admitted that he had difficulty casting Ozymandias because of how unique the character's traits were. "We were having a hard time casting [the role], because we needed someone handsome, beautiful and sophisticated, and that's a tough combo," Snyder said. While he was probably intrigued with tackling a complex character like Rorschach, it's unclear why Cruise didn't jump for the Ozymandias role. On paper, Cruise is the perfect choice for Ozymandias, a character who is known for his charm and striking looks. There's no better fit for that description than Cruise, but alas, the "Mission: Impossible" actor wasn't interested. "Watchmen" would have also served as the actor's superhero debut, something fans have been wanting to see for years. 

It's unclear how the actor started chatting with the director about "Watchmen," but it probably stemmed from the surprising phone call Snyder received from Cruise thanks to "300" and its wild success.