This is how I’d like to think the initial conversation about Eyes Wide Shut between Tom Cruise and Stanley Kubrick went:
Interior. The wrap party for Jerry Maguire.
Kubrick: Tom, hey, Tom, how ya doin’? It’s me, Stan Kubrick. You know me, right?
Cruise: Yeah, sure, I’ve seen Ben-Hur.
K: No, Tom, I did Spartacus, but… whatever. That’s fine. Hey, how are things going with Nicole?
C: Nicole? Yeah, she’s fine. We’ve been doing pretty well.
K: The sex good?
C: Excuse me? Uh, we’ve only just met, but I don’t talk about that kind of stuff, anyway.
K: All right, just askin’. Listen, the reason I want to know is I’ve got a movie planned, see? It’s been a while since I’ve done one and I’m pretty sure I want this to be the one I go out on. Can I tell you about it? You and Nicole’d be perfect.
C: Look, I’ve got a lot of people to see tonight. I can see Cameron’s trying to get my attention, so can we talk later? Or could you send the script to my agent?
K: Nah, nah, I need to know now whether you’re in on this with me. This is going to take a lot of planning and I’m very busy. What if I told you there’s another Oscar nomination in it for you?
C: …really? Well, yeah, that’s a good start, I guess. You’ve gotten some Oscars before, I think. You did that movie about Vietnam with Brando, right? I’ve heard some good things about it, but it’s too long for me to watch. Stuff with the Church has been ramping up lately.
K: *sigh* No, my last picture was Full Metal Jacket. You’re thinking of Apocalypse Now.
C: The apocalypse isn’t happening. That’s a bunch of lies spread by the Christians.
K: What? Never mind. So the movie, I’m thinking about calling it Eyes Wide Shut. It’s got a lot of sex in it and I think you and Nicole’d be great.
C: I don’t know, Stan. My agent told me to stay away from too much sex. Who am I having sex with?
K: Nicole, but only a little bit. It’s not really you having the sex.
C: Nicole’s been sleeping around on me?
K: No, no, no, we’re talking about the movie still. In the movie, Nicole tells you about some fantasies she’s had that don’t involve you, and that makes you jealous, so you go off on your own and start seeking out sex with other folks, but you never really do anything.
C: *scoffs* Yeah, like that would ever happen.
K: The point is that’d your character is a know-it-all who can charm just about anyone, but inside he’s really weak and hollow and impotent. You get yourself into all these tempting situations that you never take advantage of, but not because you’re so faithful, but because you’re really just selfish and a coward.
C: Hmm… I’m not sure what you’re getting at, but it sounds like the kind of thing the Academy likes. So what does Nicole do?
K: She has a lot of sex with another guy, but it’s not real. It’s just in your imagination.
C: It better be. She knows who has the keys to the closet.
K: …right. So, whaddya say? Are you in? Can I count on you? Do you think you’re up for it?
C: Yeah, sure, whatever. I’m doing a movie with Paul Thomas Anderson soon, too, so I need to be available for that. I think he made a movie about a guy with a big dick, so I’m pretty sure my character is the one with the big dick in this movie.
K: Okay. I’m sure we can work something out. What about Nicole? Should I get in touch with her agent?
C: I’m her agent, so she’s in.
K: You are? Don’t you have to be licensed for that?
C: I’m a licensed officer of the Church.
K: Of course, of course. Actually, maybe we could use some of that in the movie. I’m picturing a big mansion with a ton of people with masks and they’re all banging each other.
C: I’ve got a big mansion and toy box for costumes. You can’t use either of them, though. And we don’t talk about that stuff in the Church.
K: Sure, we can talk more about that later. I bet you got some real good stories. We’ll chat. All right, it’s past my bedtime so I’m heading home. Hey, thanks again, Tom. This is gonna be one for the history books.
C: Do you think I should catch up with some of your other movies? I think I’ll start with the one where Nicholson goes nuts, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest?
K: Okay, pal. You do that.