AND AUDIO SNIPPET FROM DE PALMA INTERVIEW IN 2002
Thanks to Greg Srisavasdi at Hollywood Outbreak for reminding us that, back in 1997, Al Pacino had been in talks for the part of Kevin Dunn in Brian De Palma's Snake Eyes. Pacino eventually turned it down, and Gary Sinise ended up taking on the role opposite Nicolas Cage (Will Smith had also flirted with that project). But there is another little-known project that De Palma and Pacino had tried to put together way before Scarface.
In the book Brian De Palma: Conversations with Samuel Blumenfeld and Laurent Vachaud, De Palma says that back in 1970, he and Pacino attempted to mount a film version of John Guare's short play Cop-Out, which had a high-profile opening on Broadway in April of 1969, but only ran 8 performances. De Palma said in the book that they tried to set up the film with Warner Bros., where De Palma made Get To Know Your Rabbit that same year, following his independently-made Hi, Mom!.
Guare's Cop-Out is a surreal play in which two policemen, one in uniform and one in plainclothes, are played by the same actor, who interchanges (amidst stage blackouts and musical cues) between the two counterpoints of straight-laced police work (the stuttering uniformed one) and noirish absurd fantasies (the smooth and cocky plainclothes one). Each man interacts with a woman, the only other performer in the piece, and she alternates along with him. At one point, the plainclothes cop is drawn into an avant-garde play (a play-within-the play) which finds him under the covers, servicing Marilyn Monroe under the guise of several U.S. presidents, from Washington to Lincoln to Roosevelt, etc. The actor pops up from under the covers to deliver each president's gag-line as Groucho Marx might (complete with cigar), singing crude songs, etc.
The driving "plot" of the play is a whodunnit detective story, with a marked contrast between the cops who, played by the same actor, seem like two sides of the same personality. This aspect, of course, would have fit right in with the types of films De Palma would go on to make throughout his career, and it seems likely he might have envisioned some sort of split-screen for the film version, having just finished the split-screen Dionysus In '69. It certainly would have been an interesting film.
DE PALMA AUDIO SNIPPET
While you're at the Hollywood Outbreak link, check out Srisavasdi's snippet of audio from an interview he did with De Palma for Femme Fatale a little over a decade ago, in which the director talks about leaving enough room in a screenplay to allow for visual design. Great stuff!