The lead role in Bruce Almighty seems tailor-made for Jim Carrey, but there were some other actors in mind for the film if he wasn’t interested. Directed by Tom Shadyac and co-written by Steve Koren, Mark O’Keefe, and Steve Oedekerk, Bruce Almighty tells the story of a TV reporter named Bruce (Carrey) who has harsh criticism for how God (Morgan Freeman) is doing His job. This results in God bestowing His powers upon Bruce for a whole week to give the human a better understanding of what it’s truly like to be the almighty creator.
Speaking about the film in an interview with Syfy Wire, O’Keefe shared some details about the making of Bruce Almighty. Concerning its casting, the co-writer admits that Carrey was not the original choice for the role. Before the screenplay had been sold to Shadyac and producer Michael Bostick, the writers were envisioning someone from the Saturday Night Live cast in the 1990s as Koren had worked there as a writer at the time and still had connections to the talent. Jim Breuer was someone specifically named as a potential actor for the role. Chris Farley and Will Ferrell were also pictured as possibilities.
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Things changed when the writers had a meeting with Shadyac about casting the lead role. The director was willing to move forward with Breuer, though he pitched the idea of shooting for someone like Carrey, who had been headlining blockbuster comedies for years by that point. O’Keefe figured that going for Carrey was worth a shot, and as it turned out, the Cable Guy star was interested.
“We went into [Shadyac’s] office, and he’s like, ‘Okay, it’s up to you guys. If you want try to make it right now, we can give it Jim Breuer or we can take a big swing and try to get Jim Carrey.’ We were like, ‘Okay, let’s just let’s take that swing, because it’s a much bigger swing.’ And it worked out.”
Jim Carrey Contributed to the Story
Bringing Carrey into the project also brought some changes to the screenplay, as the actor had some of his own ideas he wanted to incorporate. He worked with Oedekerk to put in some rewrites to the story, which includes changing Bruce’s job from a car salesman, as was the original plan, to a struggling reporter. Ultimately, Koren says he was happy with the changes that came as a result.
“Generally, anything that we read in the rewrites that we were like, ‘Well, why would they do that to our script?’, we ended up being very thankful for many of them because it certainly turned into a movie a lot of people love. If there was a ‘genius,’ it was the combination of what we did with Steve Oedekerk and Jim and all those guys.”
All’s well that ends well, as Bruce Almighty was a tremendous hit at the box office. It would later spawn a spinoff, Evan Almighty, but the shortcomings of that movie at the box office would halt plans to make another installment dubbed Lucifer that would have followed Carrey’s character after getting Satan’s powers.
You can currently stream Bruce Almighty on Peacock.