It's probably best to consider the free-speaking source on this one, but Terry Gilliam has apparently told Total Film magazine that Tom Cruise had asked, and was turned down, for one of the three roles in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus that opened up following Heath Ledger's death last January: "I'm not sure if it was Tom or his agent [who put Cruise forward for the role]. I know there was a period when Tom's agents were keen. The thing is, I was only interested in people who were friends of Heath. Simple as that. I wanted to keep it in the family."
We're still not clear on just how well Jude Law, Colin Farrell, and Johnny Depp, who ultimately took the roles, actually knew Ledger, but whatever — isn't it sort of too bad that Gilliam turned down Cruise? Regardless of how the final product would've turned out (surely not drastically different than it did without him), wouldn't the involvement of another megastar — one who runs his own damn movie studio, for God's sake! — have helped a little? Despite doom-y predictions, his Valkyrie was even a hit! If Cruise had starred in Parnassus, would the film have still languished for months this year without a distributor, accumulating bad buzz the whole time, only to maybe get picked up by Sony Pictures Classics? We doubt it. (As far as we can tell, the previously announced deal hasn't yet been finalized, and there has been no official word on an American release date.)
Come on, Terry, we know he's weird and was probably just trying to rehabilitate his couch-jumping image, but if Tom Cruise asks to be in one of your movies, you should always say yes.