Johnny Depp Passed on Face/Off Because He Was Disappointed to Learn It Was Not a Movie About Hockey
First off all, for those who do not know the movie, Face/Off was released in 1997 and stars John Travolta and Nicolas Cage. In order to foil an extortion plot, an FBI agent undergoes a facial transplant surgery and assumes the identity and physical appearance of a terrorist, but the plan turns from bad to worse when the same terrorist impersonates the FBI agent.
Before Paramount had a hit on its hands, Marco Brambilla (Demolition Man) was attached to direct and Johnny Depp was eyed to star. Brambilla, according to Shortlist’s oral history, wanted a younger cast, and Paramount was trying to turn Depp into a movie star. Eventually, Johnny dropped out because he — rather inexplicably — thought Face/Off was a movie about hockey.
Next came Demolition Man director Marco Brambilla, who wanted to make the cast much younger. As Colleary tells me, “That made no sense and we were totally against it on every level.” Around this time, Paramount were trying to turn 27-year-old Johnny Depp into a movie star. The studio said that they would only agree to including Nicolas Cage – who wanted to be in the film – if Johnn< could star opposite him. After finally reading the script, however, Johnny refused to take part. Having read the title he thought the film would be about hockey. He was disappointed when he discovered that it was not about hockey. He was out – and with him so was Brambilla. As Colleary puts it, “A lot of things had to go wrong to help this movie along.”