From Screen Rant: “Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinski says he almost got Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise to star in Ford v Ferrari when he was on the project.
Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise nearly reunited in Ford v Ferrari. Released late in 2019, the period drama about Ford Motor Company’s battle to surpass dominant Ferrari in the world of international racing proved to be a big hit with $225 million at the global box office. The film also received wide critical acclaim, snagging four Oscar nominations including one for Best Picture.
Of course, a big reason for the movie’s success was the presence of legitimate star actors Matt Damon and Christian Bale at the top of the cast, Damon playing the brilliant automotive engineer and Bale as the fearless driver taking on the grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans race. It also didn’t hurt that the movie was directed by James Mangold, the man who previously helmed critical and financial hits Walk the Line and Logan. But naturally, as is the case with many movies, Ford v Ferrari went through a lot of twists and turns before finally having its big moment on screens. At one point, Joseph Kosinski was actually set to direct the film, and indeed Damon and Bale were not the first choice to star in the movie.
Speaking to Collider as part of the website’s Directors on Directing event for Comic-Con @ Home 2020, Kosinski in fact revealed who almost starred in Ford v Ferrari when he was still involved, and the names he dropped are two of the biggest in Hollywood (via Comic-Con International):
The one that I always think about that got away was called Go Like Hell. Which eventually did get made as Ford v Ferrari. I always wanted to make a racing film and, the thing about racing movies is, it can’t be about racing, it has to have some amazing story underneath to warrant itself being made. And that story was one of those great stories of an incredible friendship and an incredible rivalry and an incredibly dangerous race. So we, I wouldn’t say we got close to production, but I got to the point where I had Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt at a table read reading the script together, which was pretty amazing. But we couldn’t get the budget to the number it had to be at.
Kosinski of course has a strong connection with Cruise, having directed him in the sci-fi film Oblivion as well as the upcoming (and again delayed) Top Gun: Maverick. Cruise and Pitt obviously have on-screen history together too, having starred as a pair of elegant vampires in Neil Jordan’s 1994 gothic horror movie Interview With the Vampire. At that point though, Pitt was an up-and-coming actor while Cruise was already established as one of the biggest stars in the world. Had they appeared together in Ford v Ferrari it would have been on much more equal footing in terms of star power, but obviously the budget was not there to make both actors happy financially.
The question naturally is which actor would have played which of the movie’s lead roles in this alternative version. Cruise would seem the natural choice to play driver Ken Miles given his daredevil tendencies (and his experience behind the wheel on screen after his role in the NASCAR film Days of Thunder), and his portrayal of a British character would have given everyone the chance to enjoy Cruise attempting an accent. Frankly, Cruise feels like a bad fit for that character and it’s probably a good thing the part eventually went to Bale, who effortlessly embodied the complicated and ultimately doomed Miles. Pitt would have likely had little trouble playing cocky Texan Carroll Shelby, given his own roots in Oklahoma.
Ultimately, it’s hard to argue with the cast Ford v Ferrari ended up with, and it’s even harder to argue with the movie’s success both at the box office and with critics. But a reunion of Pitt and Cruise in a noisy racing movie, with Cruise attempting a British accent, would have obviously been amazing as well.”