How That Amazingly Terrible Universal-Monster-Universe Cast Photo Happened

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This never happened. Photo: Universal Studios

Universal is finally bringing “Dark Universe” to fruition, and the studio gathered its group of over-40 male leads into one room to snap a pic with their only female co-star. Russell Crowe! Javier Bardem! Tom Cruise! Johnny Depp! Sofia Boutella! Imagine it: the chatter behind the scenes, the witty banter, the growing rapport. “You know, Mortdecai had a good concept,” Crowe might have whispered in Depp’s ear. “I’m actually in the market for my 72nd franchise,” Depp might have murmured to Cruise. “Is Mission Impossible hiring?” Boutella probably scrolled through Instagram, waiting patiently to leave this room full of men who are about five years and two misfires away from enlisting in The Expendables.

But now — surprise! — it has emerged that this photo was a ruse. These five people actually did not gather together in a Sears portrait studio to have their picture taken. There was no banter, no laughter, no cajoling Bardem to be the One Who Sits. In a Hollywood Reporter story about the making of Dark Universe, it has emerged that Universal’s press photo was actually a composite. Here’s how we think it came together.

Sofia Boutella
Sofia Boutella absolutely walked in and walked out of the studio in ten minutes flat. This was her only pose. This was her only expression. This was her only outfit. “Just do whatever,” she probably said, in and out so quickly the receptionist didn’t have time to politely apologize for mistaking her for Penelope Cruz.

Javier Bardem and Johnny Depp
What thoughts were going through Javier Bardem’s mind as he likely waited the standard three hours for Johnny Depp to arrive? It feels entirely possible that the Pirates co-stars were the only two people who were photographed together. Bardem was definitely wearing a tie initially, but once he heard a rumor that Tom Cruise wasn’t even going to show up in a suit, he reconsidered. When he saw that absurd piece of fabric Depp is playing off as a tie, he definitely decided to try his hand at the Obama unbutton. What audiobook is Depp listening to in that earpiece of his?

Russell Crowe
There’s no way this is a human pose Russell Crowe gave in a real live studio. Crowe might have shown up, grumbled in the corner for a few hours, and then zipped off into the night. Nothing was usable. Someone, somewhere had to take a still of Crowe as Dr. Henry Jekyll in the new Mummy and do everything in their power to make him not look like something Madame Tussaud discarded. Might that errant hand have originally been meant for Javier Bardem’s shoulder?

Tom Cruise
Someone definitely asked the photographer if they had tickets to Tom Cruise’s gun show, and that person was absolutely Tom Cruise. On his way out he probably gave a lot of firm handshakes and reminded the photo assistants that he’s contractually obligated to be in the center of this publicity image.

How That Terrible Monster-Universe Cast Photo Happened