This article originally appeared on eightieskids.com
1999’s The Mummy was neither the first nor the last film to carry that title – but for anyone who came of age in the 90s, any mention of The Mummy immediately brings to mind images of Brendan Fraser rescuing Rachel Weisz from a digitally-augmented Arnold Vosloo.
A huge action-adventure smash, writer-director Stephen Sommers’ film revived studio Universal’s ailing monster movie property, launched a new franchise, and inspired scores of blockbusters that attempted a similar mesh of adventure, comedy and horror. Did you know the following fascinating facts about the film that started it all?
20. It was originally developed as an R-rated horror
Universal originally had a hit with The Mummy way back in 1932, the success of which resulted in a series of classic Mummy movies with a spooky tone. The studio started developing a reboot in the late 80s, originally envisaging it as an R-rated horror franchise to compete with the likes of A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th.
A number of acclaimed horror filmmakers were attached to this Mummy reboot over the years, among them George A Romero, Clive Barker, Joe Dante and Mick Garris, but their takes were all deemed too dark and strange. Eventually, Universal decided to make the project PG-13, and entrusted it to Stephen Sommers (then fresh from Deep Rising).
19. Tom Cruise was offered the lead role, but he passed
For The Mummy’s lead role of Rick O’Connell, reportedly the first actor approached was Tom Cruise. He declined for unknown reasons, leading the character to be passed over to Brendan Fraser, whose portrayal of the down on his luck gunslinger became instantly beloved. It then took almost 20 years for Cruise to get a second chance at the franchise.
Cruise finally led a Mummy movie in 2016, where he was given almost complete control over everything from the script to the character choices made by other actors in the Alex Kurtzman reboot. However, Cruise’s total commitment and perfectionism backfired, with the film flopping badly, and killing all hopes of a Universal interconnected Dark Universe along with it.