Tom Cruise Almost Played Iconic Superhero in Zack Snyder Film: Who Is Rorschach?

Zack Snyder had another superhero in mind for the movie star.

Zack Snyder reveals that Tom Cruise was passed over for an unexpected role. Snyder recently cleared up some old Watchmencasting rumors during an appearance on Josh Horowitz's Happy Sad Confused podcast

Horowitz mentioned several names that were rumored for the 2009 film, such as Keanu Reeves playing Dr. Manhattan and Tom Cruise for Ozymandias. However, Cruise had another character in mind. "I wanted Cruise for Ozymandias; he wanted to play Rorschach," said Snyder.

For the uninitiated, Rorschach is considered by many to be the protagonist of Watchmen's ensemble cast. Unlike the other former superheroes now working for the government undercover, he is introduced as the only masked vigilante who acts on his own initiative and terms. 

A ruthless crime fighter, Rorschach is committed to punishing evil at all costs under a moral absolutism that views good and evil as pure ends. His mask, which uses his namesake inkblot test as a model, features a continuously morphing black-and-white inkblot representing his sense of morality. As well as being borderline insane at times, Rorschach is also highly violent with his extreme methods of killing criminals, as in one scene in which he angrily slaughtered a child abductor and his dogs.

While Cruise has turned in some unconventional performances—his roles in Tropic Thunder and Collateral come to mind—it's hard to imagine the movie star fully embodying the disturbed vigilante antihero as fully as Jackie Earle Healy did in his acclaimed performance in the film. Cruise's couch-jumping reputation was also teetering at an all-time low as a result of his relationship with Katie Holmes and Matt Lauer's interview with him criticizing Brooke Shields for using medication to treat postpartum depression.

As the film's director acknowledged, Cruise "obviously could've done" the role, but Jackie Earle Haley, arguably the film's best performance, was already in the role. "I certainly would've considered Tom, in retrospect, if I hadn't had Jackie."

Despite this, in 2009, Snyder told the L.A. Times that Cruise wasn't the right actor for the role due to his fame and familiarity with audiences. "I think if you have a Tom Cruise, someone of that stature of fame, it makes it harder to present this other world and keep the viewer right there in it," the director said at the time.