Forget Travolta. The news here is that Johnny Depp would have played opposite Nicholas Cage in Face/Off except for one little fact, a fact that seems rather silly when you think about it.
20 years after its release, Shortlist explored the making of the action thriller. An interview with screenwriter Michael Colleary reveals that in the carousel of directors and stars attached to the project, Depp was considered for the John Travolta role when Demolition Man director Marco Brambilla was attached, but chose not to do the film because of a misunderstanding about the movie’s plot:
“Around this time, Paramount were trying to turn 27-year-old Johnny Depp into a movie star. The studio said that they would only agree to including Nicolas Cage – who wanted to be in the film – if Depp could star opposite him. After finally reading the script, however, Depp refused to take part. Having read the title he thought the film would be about hockey. He was disappointed when he discovered that it was not about hockey. He was out – and with him so was Brambilla.”
I guess it never occurred to Depp to ask just what kind of film he was considering, did it? Might have made some kind of difference when he read the script. In any case, Depp probably would have made more sense than Travolta, who is two inches taller and with a heavier build. It just never made much sense to me to have a taller, heaver guy try to pretend to be someone smaller and more slightly built. Didn’t their wives notice, despite the titular face-swapping? I think I would notice if I had tall heavy set wife who suddenly lost fifteen, twenty pounds and two inches in height. Wouldn’t you? On the other hand, Depp is two inches shorter than Cage, so maybe it wouldn’t have worked the other way, either. Regardless, I think Face/off, despite the fact it’s a decent 90s action flick, has a rather idiotic premise just for the joy of having two people swap faces and identities.