John Malkovich Didn’t Want To Be The Subject Of ‘Being John Malkovich’: ‘Why Not ‘Being Tom Cruise’?’

It earned three Oscar nominations and countless fans but Spike Jonze's 1999 film "Being John Malkovich" could not initially count John Malkovich among them.

John Malkovich wearing a suit and tie: John Malkovich - Getty Images John Malkovich - Getty Images

Considered a cult classic, the movie takes place within the mind of Malkovich. Now, Malkovich discusses the film in a new interview, telling NME, when he was initially given Charlie Kaufman's script, he wanted to direct the film himself with someone else as the famous subject.

The actor says he and Kaufman discussed needing a subject with "a quality of unknowability" to which Malkovich replied: "I don’t know what that means. I don’t think anybody is a fixed, knowable thing."

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He continues, "I get what Charlie is saying, and I think Charlie is incredibly clever, but I don’t really think anyone is knowable if I’m unknowable."

Malkovich says he had never met with Kaufman before the screenplay was written so all he would have had of him is a "third-party impression."

"I don’t think I had a conversation with him until right before I did the film when we had breakfast with Spike Jonze," he says. Kaufman told him he was a big fan, which Malkovich says he clearly understood from the script. Still, Malkovich wanted to direct the film himself and change the subject.

"Why not 'Being Tom Cruise', I asked? Charlie told me quite clearly that he had no desire to change it, and that he was going to direct, so I said, 'OK.'"

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Despite the agreement, Malkovich says, "To be honest, I never actually thought that it would get made. I remember those years when it remained un-produced. Whenever I got to Hollywood for some press thing or whatever, invariably I’d be in some hotel lobby or in some restaurant or at some vintage lamp store, and somebody would come up to me and say, ‘Hey, why aren’t you making "Being John Malkovich"?’ Eventually, we did it, and honestly, I was just happy to be a part of it."

"Being John Malkovich" ended up being a staple of awards season, earning multiple nominations at the Oscars, Golden Globes, and SAG Awards.


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