Tom Cruise was originally selected for James Brolin's acclaimed role in Gus Van Sant's new biopic MILK.
Brolin plays the part of Dan White, a Vietnam veteran and former police officer and firefighter.
But filmmaker Van Sant's first wanted Cruise for the role - because he thought the megastar's involvement in the movie, alongside fellow Hollywood actor Sean Penn, would get the controversial project off the ground.
He says, "I thought if I connected those two guys (Cruise and Penn) at the time I could go into the studio and say, 'Look, I have these two guys' and they would do it.
"There was always the problem with the gay community aspect of the film so they needed a reason to overcome that fear that they had of making a film that wasn't going to have a very big return money wise, so that was my plan."
Milk has grabbed a clutch of awards since its release, and is tipped to feature heavily at the Oscar's next month (Feb09).