According to the book 'The Devil's Candy', in 1990 Brian De Palma was attached to direct. He was turned down by the studio after the failure of The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990). Kenneth Branagh was also approached after the success of Henry V (1989).
John Patterson: Well then you go too, you lack the courage to lead. Go! Tell all your men to go. But I will kill the lions and I will build the bridge. And you? You must go home and tell the wives of the men who died here that you fled with the others because you could not master your fear.