A half-baked script wasn’t enough to sell Arnold Schwarzenegger On The Rock

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Schwarzenegger recounts his experience with Simpson in an “Empire” magazine profile, telling how the producer showed him the script when he was “devastated” and “totally stoned.” It clearly wasn’t a final draft based on what Schwarzenegger had to say about it, and Simpson seemed hesitant to even let him read the full script, probably because it wasn’t finished yet:

“He’s got 85 pages with him and there’s handwritten notes all over the place by Jerry Bruckheimer. He’s like, ‘Here, look at this script. But don’t read it! Just, here’s the premise… “He was everywhere. I said, ‘Look, Don. I can’t make a commitment based on what you show me here. You won’t even let me read the script! Why not cook it a little more, develop it a little more and then we’ll talk. He was very upset. He just walked out and then went to see Nicolas Cage with the part.

The curious part of this shot is that, for all the macho attitude Bay imbues with “The Rock,” Cage’s role as nerdy FBI scientist Dr. both comic and suspenseful. This is especially true of the relationship with her on-screen partner Sean Connery, who plays maximum-security inmate and escape master John Mason. Schwarzenegger is arguably too much of an action star to pull this off convincingly (example: his “regular dad” role on “Jingle All the Way”), so switching to Cage was probably the right move, even if Cage told him even thought the character wasn’t macho enough. Ironically, there’s reason to think that Nic Cage’s next roles as true action heroes would have been better for Arnold, but that’s a debate for another time.

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