Most people watching the surreal A24 movie Dream Scenario will think of it as a project tailor-made for Nicolas Cage. It’s exactly the kind of oddity he likes — a character-driven, high-concept story that lets Cage exercise both sides of his acting personality: the quiet, soulful side he brought to films like Leaving Las Vegas andPig, and the manic, shouty one that makes him go viral in films like Mom and Dad or The Wicker Man. It’s hard to imagine Dream Scenario working without Cage. But as writer-director Kristoffer Borgli pointed out after the movie’s secret screening at the 2023 Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, it nearly was made without him — Adam Sandler was originally cast in the lead role.
Cage stars as Paul Matthews, a nebbishy, ineffectual professor who suddenly starts appearing in the dreams of people around the world. “I didn’t have anyone specifically in mind when I was writing it,” Borgli told the Fantastic Fest audience at a post-screening Q&A. “For a brief moment, Adam Sandler was attached, and it just didn’t work out, for a variety of reasons of timing and everything. No one is to blame here — it’s just circumstantial. But it did lead to Nicolas Cage, which, you know, now I cannot see the movie in any other way.”
In an interview with Polygon at Fantastic Fest, Borgli went into more detail about how Sandler ended up off the movie. “We were setting this up during the pandemic. Everything was very uncertain,” Borgli said. “It was his schedule. There were just too many variables, and it just didn’t work out.
“It probably would have been a very different movie.”
That said, Borgli said he didn’t alter the script in any way when Cage took over the lead role. In his mind, the change was all tonal: “Nic Cage justRead more on polygon.com