The Shawshank Redemption’s director and writer, Frank Darabont, was offered $2.5 million from Rob Reiner to let him write and direct it instead, and cast Tom Cruise as Andy and Harrison Ford as Red. Darabont refused, saying that this was his “chance to do something really great.”
Frank Darabont secured the film adaptation rights from author Stephen King after impressing the author with his short film adaptation ofThe Woman in the Room in 1983. Although the two had become friends and maintained a pen-pal relationship, Darabont did not work with him until four years later in 1987, when he optioned to adapt Shawshank. This is one of the more famous Dollar Deals made by King with aspiring filmmakers. Darabont later directed The Green Mile (1999), which was based on another work about a prison by Stephen King, and then followed that up with an adaptation of King’s novella The Mist.
Rob Reiner, who had previously adapted another King novella, The Body, into the film Stand by Me (1986), offered $2.5 million in an attempt to write and direct Shawshank. He planned to cast Tom Cruise in the part of Andy and Harrison Ford as Red. Darabont seriously considered and liked Reiner’s vision, but he ultimately decided it was his “chance to do something really great” by directing the film himself.