The ten highest-grossing spy films of all time share a common theme: a male spy as their main character. In keeping with a tried-and-true box-office tradition, that’s how the new Angelina Jolie espionage thriller, Salt, originally started out. In the film, which is directed by Phillip Noyce (Patriot Games, Rabbit-Proof Fence), Jolie plays Evelyn Salt, a CIA agent on the run after she’s accused of being a Russian spy within the storied American intelligence agency.
Screenwriter Kurt Wimmer (The Recruit, Sphere) first wrote the script with a fictional male CIA agent, Edwin Salt, as the title character. Tom Cruise was in talks to take on the role. But, after several story revisions, Cruise decided that Edwin Salt was a little too close to Ethan Hunt — Cruise’s spy character in the megasuccessful Mission: Impossible franchise — and he dropped out of the project.