As one of the most iconic films of the '90s, and arguably one of the greatest thrillers of all time, David Fincher's Se7en had such a lasting impact on the genre, etching itself so fully into our cultural consciousness that even now, some 25 years on, it is still being used as a jumping off point for parody and reference.
The reveal of John Doe and the subsequent closing, heart-wrenching scenes ensure that even despite the now apparent problematic nature of the actor playing the film's antagonist, it is a modern day classic. It also boasted one of the more star-studded casts of the time, with the likes of Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, and Gwyneth Paltrow all taking on intrinsic roles.
However, if the original casting plans had played out, it could have been a far different ending, and film altogether. And that killer reveal could have been even MORE shocking.
According to an interview he gave on Alec Baldwin's Here's The Thing podcast, none other than R.E.M frontman Michael Stipe revealed that he was originally approached to play the character of John Doe, stating:
"I was offered the role of the psychopathic killer in the film Se7en. They wanted someone very unexpected, and unfortunately my band was going on tour the same month they were filming. And it required nothing, all I had to do was run down some hallways and look scary. There was no dialogue. I would've loved doing it. I didn't like the way that movie ended. They changed something at the end with Brad Pitt's rather than Morgan Freeman's character killing Kevin Spacey, which shouldn't have happened. It didn't make sense."
It is incredibly difficult to imagine anyone matching the intensity and menace that Spacey brought to the role, and that's without going into just what a truly bizarre and left-field call it would have been to cast Stipe in the first place. Couple that with Stipe's assertions that his portrayal of Doe would've been less cerebral and more physically manic, and it would've changed the entire feel and tone of the movie.
The Losing My Religion singer even goes so far as to suggest that it's Detective Somerset (Freeman) not Detective Mills (Pitt) that kills Doe in the original script, potentially curtailing the bitter crux of the final scene. It's clear that once Spacey was cast, Fincher decided to go in a different direction with Doe, and thankfully so.