With the first trailer for Michael Mann‘s new film “Blackhat” now online, there’s no better time than the present to catch up with his filmography before the cyber thriller hits (our retrospective of his work should provide a good starting point). But here’s some trivia some of you might know already, though others perhaps not: the director’s once had a very different duo in mind for his 2004 effort “Collateral.”
“Nothing’s wrong with Adam Sandler, but it kinda envisioned a—it took place in New York, the Jamie Foxx character was a badly written Jewish cab driver, with the kind of stereotypes that can only come from someone writing that kind of a character who’s foreign, who’s not American, that doesn’t live in New York,” Mann said about the development of the project and script. “It was Woody Allen playing the guy. And I didn’t like the screenplay, I didn’t like the dialogue, I didn’t like writing, but if you took the screenplay, and put it under an MRI, or an X-ray machine, and took a look at it, you realize this thing has beautiful, beautiful bones. It’s one of the most beautifully constructed stories I’d had ever run into. And it was gemlike, and it all took place in one night, and the roles each guy played in the other’s realization of himself, and it was just a beautiful piece of writing by [Stuart] Beattie. But I loved the story structure of it, so I rewrote it.”
And with that rewrite, Tom Cruise came aboard, originally in the role of the cab driver, and Mann reveals he had almost cast a woman as the assassin. Damn. But as we know, Cruise slotted nicely into that part, Foxx—who had worked with Mann on “Ali“—came on as the driver and the rest is history.
No word why Sandler or Crowe drifted away, but it’s hard to argue that Mann’s final version works really well; the film is a lean, tightly coiled thriller, with just enough mood to raise it above similar genre exercises. We’ll see if the director can do the same with “Blackhat” when it opens on January 16, 2015.