The Firm Could Have Been Totally Different

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After the success of A Few Good Men, Tom Cruise stepped into another gripping tale, The Firm based on the successful John Grisham novel.

Talking about Tom Cruise, director Sydney Pollack said, “It’s impossible to analyze why people are stars… Aside from being immensely likeable always on screen, I think you do feel like you know him in a certain way.”

The film was a box office smash, grossing more than $74 million.

1. It was almost a completely different movie.

Originally, Lili Fini Zancuk was going to direct with Jason Patric in the lead. The first script was especially dark, with the lead’s wife being attacked, his brother being killed, and the main character getting revenge via a machine gun finale. The producers were skeptical of this ending and especially nervous about adapting the book incorrectly, especially because it was a hot bestseller. So they offered the film to Tom Cruise to star and direct. Cruise turned down directing, and eventually, Sydney Pollack took the helm.

2. A key character was almost changed dramatically.

As they were crafting the film, Sydney Pollack toyed with the idea of making Gene Hackman’s character a woman, which would have been played by Meryl Streep. He said, “That way, instead of the firm seducing him only spiritually, it would seduce him literally.” However, when the news leaked, fans of the novel objected to the dramatic change, and it was scrapped.

3. Hackman learned a new skill.

For the film, Gene Hackman needed to learn how to scuba dive. He took lessons from a local marine biologist and diver. But given the limitations of Santa Fe, he learned in a unique way. Hackman said, “[He] took me to this public swimming pool – it had a depth of nine feet or something like that – and I got my first introduction to scuba through him.”