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Tom Cruise, Ben Affleck Bested by Tom Welling for Gay Role Apr 1, 2006 - 10:05
HOLLYWOOD - Tom Cruise, Ben Affleck, Clay Aiken, and other stars were bested by Smallville's Tom Welling for the chance of playing Brad Pitt's love interest in Oscar-winning director Ang Lee's new film, When David Met Jonathan. The biblical epic, which relies solely on texts from the Old Testament books of Samuel, chronicles David and Jonathan's story of passionate love, intrigue, and deception.
According to Mr. Lee, he came up with the idea for When David Met Jonathan when a theologian friend of his mentioned there was a male love story in the bible.
"At first I didn't believe it, but there it was—the story of David and Jonathan. Everything I needed for the screenplay was right there in the books of Samuel. By utilizing the biblical texts, we saved a bundle on writers' salaries and avoided ego problems."
When Mr. Lee read the description of David as "a handsome, ruddy youth," he thought immediately of Brad Pitt. Fortunately, Mr. Pitt was searching for a role like this to expand his repertoire, and he could still fit into the costume he wore in Troy.
The chorus of "pick me, pick me" began when Mr. Lee announced an open casting call for the part of Jonathan.
Singer Clay Aiken was so desperate to land the role that he created a disturbance on a Southwest Airlines flight bound for Chattanooga, Tennessee.
"He wouldn't put down his cell phone when I asked him to," reported flight attendant Juli Harris. "He had this really crazed look in his eyes and kept saying he had to reach his agent."
Mr. Aiken was restrained by an on-board air marshal, and the pilot made an emergancy landing in Knoxville, where Mr. Aiken was arrested for bitch slapping Ms. Harris repeatedly. As a result of Mr. Aiken's arrest, his performance at a Piggly Wiggly opening in Chattanooga was canceled.
When asked about the possibility of Mr. Aiken playing the role of Jonathan, Mr. Lee cited the 18th chapter of 1st Samuel where Jonathan strips nude in front of David and hands him his clothes. "I just don't think the public is ready to see Mr. Aiken that way."
Mr. Lee heard from Tom Cruise' people the minute the casting call announcement had been made.
"I questioned whether Mr. Cruise would be willing to play this role because Scientology describes same-sex love as 'a most vicious reversal of the second dynamic,'" said Mr. Lee. "Apparently, Mr. Cruise had gotten permission from Katie Holmes to play the role, as long as he remained silent during the love scenes."
Lee also revealed that he had been contacted by Ben Affleck about playing the role of Jonathan, "but only if Matt Damon could be David."
Mr. Affleck contacted Mr. Lee after learning that the screen test would involve a scene in which David and Jonathan fall on the ground, kiss, weep, and make a covenant with each other as depicted in the 20th chapter of 1st Samuel.
"I told him the part of David had already gone to Brad Pitt," said Mr. Lee. "Besides, people are tired of seeing Ben and Matt together."
Mr. Lee admitted that Tom Cruise had been the leading contender for the role of Jonathan until Smallville star, Tom Welling, auditioned for the part.
"He waltzed right up to Brad and just nailed it. He really blew Cruise right out of the water."
Mr. Lee says he is prepared for any backlash from the Christian right-wing community.
"I can understand their getting upset over a gay depiction of the American cowboy, but if they have a hard time with the theme of When David Met Jonathan, I'll just have to suggest that they don't mess with the literal meaning of the scriptures."