As Collider shares, from an article in Total Film Magazine, the actor was lobbying to be cast in the project, hoping it would be the next step in his image update after Tropic Thunder. Gilliam said: "I know there was a period when Tom's agents were keen. The thing is, I was only interested in people who were friends of Heath. Simple as that. I wanted to keep it in the family."
It was definitely the right decision -- a lot more respectful, with pure intent rather than image-led planning. But beyond the fact that Gilliam made the right choice, I can't get beyond the surprise that Cruise was interested. This is Terry Gilliam. Not a big mainstream-buzzing Ben Stiller flick. Even with the buzz created by Ledger's death, it's a really interesting decision image-wise. Why was Cruise and company so keen? To get him artistic cred? Thoughtful cred for helping out? A boost by the buzz that this is Ledger's first film? I'm at a loss.