According to Dazed’s Adam White, the script has been rewritten more than 16 times. In its first iteration, it was a lot darker than the film we know and love today. Set in a fake New York City, the earlier tales followed an alcoholic and “emotionally dislocated” protagonist who ignored a staged assault and threatened a baby as he became more aware of his situation.
Additionally, in an interview with BFI, screenwriter Andrew Niccol reveals that Brian De Palma was originally set to direct Scarface and Carrie, but resigned because he couldn’t picture Jim Carrey as Truman. Before Peter Weir took over the reins, the production company even offered David Cronenberg, best known for horror films like “Scanners” and “The Fly,” (via Los Angeles Times) for the vacant directing position.
So it’s fair to say that “The Truman Show” would have been darker and more balanced if De Palma hadn’t resigned, if Cronenberg hadn’t turned down directing work afterward, or if the production company had given the green light to an earlier script for a scarier ride . However, Weir loosened up the content, adding more humor and setting the story in a quaint seaside town rather than a rain-soaked city. In doing so, he has given us a heartfelt, legacy-building jewel of satirical dramedy, while maintaining some haunting horror notes throughout the film.