Ratner was dizzy with the success of the action packed ''Rush Hour'' when ''Family Man'' landed on his desk. The romantic comedy, about an investment banker (Cage) who gets to see how his life would have turned out if he'd married his college sweetheart (Leoni), wasn't what Ratner expected to do next. ''I had the 'Superman' script and about 20 other cool blockbusters to choose from,'' says the 30 year old music vid veteran. ''Why would I ever do a romantic comedy?'' The answer: ''I couldn't stop weeping. I called my agent and said, 'I have to do this.'''
If only persuading Cage to play the lead were that easy. The actor, who'd been attached when ''L.A. Confidential'''s Curtis Hanson was set to direct, was no longer interested. ''I had to keep going back to Nic for weeks,'' Ratner says. The studio, meanwhile, sent out offers to Tom Cruise and John Travolta, who passed. The director also considered using George Clooney and Hugh Grant. As the pressure to begin shooting mounted, Ratner made one last trip to see Cage. Ratner says, ''I told him, 'People love you in romantic roles. You can always make a ''Con Air.'' Why are you shying away from a ''Moonstruck''?' [The movie] was all good from there.''
Well, not ALL good. Leoni, making her first foray into film since she and husband David Duchovny had their baby in April 1999, forced production to shut down when their daughter came down with double pneumonia. ''[Her illness] was one of the most emotionally and physically altering events of my life,'' Leoni says. ''I was a different person when I came back to the set [after the child recovered]. It made me feel more deeply about everything.'' That depth apparently shows up on screen. ''Téa's gonna blow people away,'' Ratner promises. ''She's gonna be like Meg Ryan after this movie comes out.'' GOOD SIGN It's a Cage film not produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. THEN AGAIN Where's Cher?