All great actors need to start somewhere. From the Oscar-winning Tom Hanks to the iconic Mission Impossible headliner Tom Cruise, every actor got their big break in due time. While initially, they may have had to do small roles, their talent gets recognized sooner rather than later, as they surpass expectations.

But what happens when a slice of your big break comes knocking and you choose not to answer the door? It seems like that’s what happened with Tom Cruise when he was offered the role of the polite banker turned-killer, Andy Dufresne.

Why Did Tom Cruise Decline The Shawshank Redemption?

Nicole Kidman has her doubts about Cruise's romance with Elsina Khayrova
Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut

Tom Cruise is said to be one of the most influential actors of his time. Whether he’s running at full speed chasing villains or he’s riding a bike to the ends of the Earth, everything about him is iconic.

While some of his co-stars only have good things to say about him, he is notorious for having a huge ego, which apparently was the reason behind him passing up on the opportunity that would have given him newer avenues to shine.

Also Read: “He told me no at first”: Tom Cruise Had to Be Convinced to Break His 1 Bizarre Rule for His ‘The Mummy’ Co-Star

Based on Stephen King’s bestselling novel. writer/director Frank Darabont envisioned The Shawshank Redemption that would bring all aspects of the story together to create magic on screen. Now, we see the movie becoming a class must-watch, but back when it was released, it turned out to be a dud at the box office.

Not everyone appreciated the unconventional prisoner’s journey. Cruise, on the other hand, liked the script, but did not want to come on board with the director.

Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption

A Vanity Fair article that talks about the nuances of the film that still make it relevant 20 years after it was released talks about how Cruise did not want to take direction from Darabont. He claimed that he would concede and accept the offer if Rob Reiner decided to direct the movie, perhaps because at that time, Darabont was fairly a newcomer with not much to his name.

However, Reiner, though attached to the project as Darabont’s mentor, refused to come in the way of his vision. Thus, The Shawshank Redemption was made with Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins in the lead.

Also Read: Tom Cruise Paid a Whopping Fortune Just So He Could Divorce His First Wife But it’s a Literal Drop in the Ocean for His Net Worth

The Redemption Arc of The Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption
The Shawshank Redemption

There are many speculative reasons why the movie did not do so well at the box office back in the 1990s. The industry was buzzing with the advancement of filmmaking and movies with action and fight sequences were banking more money than any other genre. Viewers finally got the drama and action they craved for, and flocked to the theatres to watch their favorite actor destroy the villains gloriously.

So, it was only natural for a drama and conversation-based movie like The Shawshank Redemption to not find its niche audience back then. Considered to be way ahead of its time, the movie forces viewers to introspect and answer questions that bubble under the surface of the human psyche.

Years after its release, it seems like the culture of slow-burn films redeemed Darabont’s debut venture and gave it the recognition it deserves. The movie was ultimately redeemed from the ashes of failure and touted to be one of the most thought-provoking projects in the industry.

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