Watchmen: Zack Snyder Confirms Tom Cruise Wanted to Play Rorschach

Snyder says he tried to get the A-list star to play the film's villain, but talks stalled when Cruise wanted to play Rorschach instead.

Speaking on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, filmmaker Zack Snyder looked back at his 2009 Watchmen adaptation -- and confirmed that some of the biggest names in Hollywood were circling it at one point or another. Quizzed on some long-simmering rumors about actors who were considered, or with whom Snyder met for the movie, one big surprise was that Tom Cruise apparently turned down the role of Ozymandias -- not because he didn't like the script or objected to the R-rated content...but because he wanted to really go for it and play Rorschach.

Rorschach, the quasi-libertarian antihero at the heart of Watchmen, is a deeply disturbed character, often seen as physically repulsive due to his odd look and lack of hygiene. For one of the most dashing leading men in Hollywood to take it on would have been a big story -- but by the time Snyder met with Cruise, he had already cast Jackie Earle Haley for he part.

"I wanted Tom Cruise for Ozymandias," Snyder admitted. "Tom wanted to play Rorschach, which obviously he could have done, but we had Jackie already, and Jackie's unbelievable. I certainly would have considered Tom in retrospect, if I hadn't had Jackie."

You can see the full interview below.

Along the way, they also talked about rumors that Keanu Reeves was considered for Dr. Manhattan -- something Snyder kinda-sorta confirms, but it doesn't sound like there were serious conversations.

"I think -- my wife is a huge Keanu fan, she's always bringing up Keanu for every role," Snyder said. "So it makes sense to me that we probably talked about that. He's probably a good [choice for] Dr. Manhattan, but [Billy] Crudup is insane."

Watchmen, based on one of the most acclaimed comic book stories of all time, centers on the murders of a former costumed adventurer in an alternate timeline where Richard Nixon remained in power for over a decade and there's only one superhero with actual powers: Doctor Manhattan, a godlike being whose distance from humanity is a growing cause for concern throughout the story. 

Rorschach, a paranoid maniac who carries a "The end is nigh" sign around when he's not in costume, holds the belief that someone is killing superheroes strategically, and that following clues to that end will uncover a conspiracy. He's actually closer to the truth than anyone suspects, and the end result brings the world to the brink of destruction.