7 Secret Interesting Facts About One of the Most Famous John Travolta Movies Ever Filmed – Face/Off

John Travolta and Face/Off

Many movies come and go, but a few of them linger in our heads for decades. Such was the effect of the iconic Nicolas Cage and John Travolta movie, Face/Off. I remember the blockbuster like it was yesterday, even though it was released almost 3 decades ago. The plot that saw the two leading actors change roles minutes into the film was the hook that made this Travolta movie memorable. While both Cage and Travolta diverged on two very different paths years after the film, Face/Off was a great indicator of the diversity of acting style that each actor could bring to the party.

Secrets Behind the Set of This Nick Cage and John Travolta Movie Hit

While many of us got to enjoy the end production and the magic that the Face/Off cast provided us, there were some fascinating facts about the movie that many of us might not know about. For instance, the lead roles were nearly very different, which would have truly changed the entire face (pardon the pun) of the show. Here are a few things we didn’t know at the time:

1. Face/Off Was Nearly a Science Fiction Film

Originally, the writer’s first version of the film was set in the future. This was done mainly to justify the existence of state-of-the-art technology that could swap people’s faces and change their voices. This notion, however, put John Woo (the Director) off the project. He said, “I want more character, more humanity. If there is too much science fiction, we lose the drama.”

Face Off technolofy - Face/Off Film

The scene where Sean Archer is having his face removed – Credit: Paramount

He was right! The film became far more relatable set in the present, which we believe made the audience connect more with the drama.

2. The Movie Production Was Put Off for 7 Years

We’ve openly complained in articles about productions like Elvis and Tyson being delayed thanks to the lockdowns of 2020, but never stop to consider that maybe things like this just happen in showbiz sometimes. While the former shows have only been on the hanger for 2 years or so, Face/Off took 7 years to get underway.

Two film school graduates wrote the screenplay in 1990 and sold it to Warner Bros. Production. The movie makers then shelved the idea, as they thought the plot was too close to one of the Stallone movies they were already considering making, called Demolition Man. Paramount finally produced the film in 1997.

3. Face/Off Sold Twice!

As a result of Warner Bros’ failure to see the value in the screenplay, their rights to the film expired. Paramount had heard about the storyline and immediately applied to purchase the idea. The writers, therefore, sold the script for a second time. It’s very rare that screenplay writers ever have the pleasure of selling a single blockbusting script, let alone one script twice.

4. Face/Off Nearly Didn’t Make It onto the Nick Cage and John Travolta Movie Portfolio

The original idea for the film was scripted for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. For various reasons, the production team decided to opt for Travolta and Cage as the leading Face/Off casting roles.

An Arnie and Sly rendition of the film would have made for a very different experience, especially in the 1990s. I could almost see them playing the part at this point in their lives, but I believe the best two stars made the cut at the end. Could you imagine Face/Off played by anyone else?

Apparently, a few other matchups were considered, including Michael Douglas and Harrison Ford, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, and even Jean Claude van Damme and Steven Seagal. Michael Douglas went on to executive produce the film, fully supporting the Nick Cage and John Travolta pairing.

Face/Off Actors

Actors considered for the lead Face/Off roles

5. First Film on Blu-Ray DVD for Paramount

High-definition home movies became the fad in the late 2000s. DVDs were transitioning, and Blu-Ray popped its head up in the market. As an evolving production brand, Paramount opted to fare the way of Blu-Ray over its HD-DVD competition and released three initial films in the new format. These included Next, The Bee Movie, and Face/Off.

As a side note, it’s interesting to note that two of the three initial Blu-Ray copies were Nicolas Cage Films. But his Face/Off co-star was not left in the dark. In fact, even John Travolta’s 1970s movie, Grease is now available in the ultra-high-definition format.

6. Cage Initially Turned the Role Down

Nicolas Cage originally turned the role of Castor Troy down, as he did not want to play the villain in the film. He changed his mind when he later found out that he would play the role of the good guy for most of the movie.

7. CGI Was Shelved

Yes, CGI was a thing in 1997. In fact, it was being used regularly in movies. Woo opted to keep the action more realistic though, which meant that most of the stunts in the film were conducted by actual stuntmen. The style in which it was shot made it feel more authentic. The physicality of the scenes doesn’t go unnoticed. I’m really not sure why the film didn’t score much higher at the critics.

Do You Remember?

If you need a little reminder about the film, watch this clip to refresh your memory:

The list of John Travolta movies is a selection of titles about as long as my forearm, but there amid his 60+ film features, Face/Off will forever be remembered as the platform that showed the world that Travolta was a better baddy than a goodie. The role clearly gave him the chance to be both, and I must say, I loved his ‘wicked’ Castor Troy portrayal far more than his Special Agent Sean Archer role. However, it doesn’t take much to realize the high value of the actor. His portfolio clearly showcases his versatility in front of the camera.

As for Cage, his decision to follow a freer acting lifestyle almost erased him from Hollywood fame. If it weren’t for his casting in Face/Off and movies like Con Air, National Treasure, or Next, he may have long been forgotten.


Sean van der Merwe

Sean is a senior writer at PokCas. He is an Entertainment, Gaming & Cryptocurrency News Reporter. He has more than 5 years of full-time writing experience.