This casting would’ve led to a completely different movie. Woody Harrelson almost played Tom Cruise’s role in Jerry Maguire, and we can’t imagine what that would be like. When the film came out in 1996, it was a box office and critical success. The film earned five Oscar nominations, including a Best Actor in a Leading Role nod for Cruise.
However, Harrelson was so close to showing Cuba Gooding Jr. the money in the film. In an interview with Esquire, the actor revealed that a major career regret was turning down the titular lead role in the Cameron Crowe-directed picture. “I was offered what’s the ‘Show me the money’ movie? Jerry Maguire? I was offered Jerry Maguire,” Harrelson said. The actor — who will return to a post-apocalyptic world in October’s Zombieland: Double Tap — thought audiences wouldn’t be interested in a story about a sports agent, which is why he passed on Jerry Maguire.
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Cover of esquire! Im as surprised as you are! My inner fashionista has been awakened! Thank you to Jay Fielden Photographer: Marc Hom (@marchomstudio) Production: Kara Glynn Casting: Randi Peck Styling: Nick Sullivan Grooming: Kumi Craig using La Mer for the Wall Group Editor in Chief – Michael Sebastian Shot at Artists for Humanity EpiCenter, Boston
“I said to Jim [James L. Brooks, one of the film’s producers], ‘Nobody is going to give a s— about an agent,’” Harrelon said. Unfortunately for Harrelson, the actor couldn’t have been more wrong. Jerry Maguire earned over $273 million at the box office and went on to be an awards season darling. Not to mention, the film is endlessly quotable and answered the question: “How much does the human head weigh?”
Harrelson has gone on to earn three Academy Award nominations for films The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996), The Messenger (2010) and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2018). All told, it doesn’t look like Harrelson’s career has suffered since turning down Jerry Maguire.