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What If...: Actors That Almost Got the Part

Hollywood is a cutthroat business, where actors and actresses are constantly duking it out for roles on the small and silver screen. Select entertainers make it big, while some struggle to book gigs and others don’t succeed. Tons of auditions are held to find that perfect person for each character, but some actors don’t make the cut, while others turn parts down. Once they do get the part, it’s often hard for fans to see anyone else play that particular role. Here are 10 performers who could have brought to life some of our favorite TV personalities.

1. Matthew Broderick/John Cusack as Walter White - ‘Breaking Bad’
What If...Actors That Almost Got the Part
Bryan Cranston has made Walter White one of the most popular characters on television today; he’s even received multiple Golden Globe nominations, and took home three Emmys for his role. Before Cranston officially scored the ‘Breaking Bad’ part, both Matthew Broderick and John Cusack almost booked the leading role. Can you imagine Ferris Bueller and Lloyd Dobler as the complicated and dark drug dealer?

2. Jane Sibbett as Debra Barone - ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’
What If...Actors That Almost Got the Part
Originally, Jane Sibbett was offered the role of Debra Barone on the sitcom, ‘Everybody Loves Raymond,’ but things didn’t turn out as expected. CBS was all about Sibbett, but Ray Romano wasn’t. Reportedly, Patricia Heaton was the only actress willing to kiss him during a test run, so she got the part. Despite losing the role to Heaton, Sibbett went on to play Ross’s lesbian ex-wife, Carol, on the hit comedy ‘Friends.’

3. Thomas Jane as Don Draper - ‘Mad Men’
What If...Actors That Almost Got the Part
Despite rarely ever winning an award for portraying Don Draper on AMC’s ‘Mad Men,’ Jon Hamm is repeatedly recognized for playing the misogynistic and egotistical ‘60s advertising man. However, he was not first choice - Thomas Jane was. At the time, Hamm was at the very bottom of the list, and the creators were told Jane did not do TV. Ironically, a few years later, Jane booked the leading role in HBO’s dramedy ‘Hung.’

4. Dana Delany as Carrie Bradshaw - ‘Sex and the City’
What If...Actors That Almost Got the Part
Dana Delany as Carrie Bradshaw? Sarah Jessica Parker did such a fantastic job as the writer/fashionista. She’s even managed to influence lives all over the world with her character, but she wasn't first choice. ‘Sex and the City’ creator, Darren Star, was a friend of Delany and wanted her for the leading role. Though, the ‘Body of Proof’ actress wasn’t interested. Delany turned down the part, as she didn’t want to do another show about sex.

5. Paul Giamatti as Michael Scott - ‘The Office’
What If...Actors That Almost Got the Part
It’s hard not to imagine Steve Carell as Dunder Mifflin’s leading man aka Michael Scott. It seems the extremely talented Paul Giamatti was actually NBC’s first choice to play the goofy regional manager on ‘The Office.’ Giamatti turned down the part - thank goodness! No offense to the Golden Globe winner and Academy Award nominee, but Carell will always be the one and only Michael Scott.

6. Maura Tierney as Sarah Braverman - ‘Parenthood’
What If...Actors That Almost Got the Part
Before Lauren Graham even stepped into Sarah Braverman’s shoes, Maura Tierney already had them tightly tied on, as she was initially cast as the eldest Braverman sister on NBC’s ‘Parenthood.’ Unfortunately, Teirney became diagnosed with breast cancer and had to leave the show. Enter favorite TV mom Graham aka Lorelai Gilmore: everyone now adores her as single mom to Amber and Drew.

7. Janeane Garofalo as Monica Geller - ‘Friends’
What If...Actors That Almost Got the Part
Courteney Cox will always be labeled as clean freak Monica Geller, but she wasn’t supposed to play the TV chef. The ‘Friends’ creators actually sought out comedian Janeane Garofalo, who would have made Monica darker and edgier. Creator David Crane admitted that when Cox auditioned she brought a “nurturing den mother” quality to the part and improved Monica.

8. Craig Bierko as Chandler Bing - ‘Friends’
What If...Actors That Almost Got the Part
Could it be any stranger to think of Craig Bierko as everybody’s favorite witty commitment-phobe, Chandler Bing? The series struggled to find the right actor, and eventually placed Bierko in the top spot. He passed on playing Chandler opening the door for Matthew Perry. ‘Friends’ fans will probably graciously thank Bierko for stepping aside and making way for Perry.

9. Michael Keaton as Jack Shephard - ‘Lost’
What If...Actors That Almost Got the Part
Before Matthew Fox made Jack Shephard noteworthy on ABC’s ‘Lost,’ the series surprisingly looked to Michael Keaton and his acting talents. J.J. Abrams met up with Keaton and explained the show’s concept. To throw off the audience, Abrams wanted Keaton to play the leading man, but kill him in the pilot. Eventually, the character was developed into a series regular, and Keaton passed on the opportunity. He didn’t want a long-term commitment.

10. John Lithgow as Frasier Crane - ‘Cheers’
What If...Actors That Almost Got the Part
When looking for that perfect actor to play the pretentious Frasier Crane on ‘Cheers,’ the comedy’s team didn’t want Kelsey Grammer, but sought out John Lithgow. They even wrote the part specifically for him. Lithgow didn’t want to do a TV series, so the part went to Grammer. Later on, Lithgow ended up doing a TV series, '3rd Rock from the Sun.'



Message Posted On Jul 22nd, 2013, 2:53 am
For Breaking Bad I never thought of Hal from malcolm in the middle "as the complicated and dark drug dealer?" either

Message Posted On Jul 10th, 2013, 7:17 am
I could've seen Cusack, Lithgow, or Keaton in the various roles. I could've seen Giamatti in The Office, but I'm not at all surprised he turned it down seeing as he was either doing "Sideways" or "Cinderella Man" at the time, both of which were so well received and received so many various nominations which led to his role as John Adams - without a doubt, the highlight of his career. If he had taken it, he'd probably have more luck in finding higher profile roles in comedies than he's finding now in dramas, but over all, would you prefer 17 major awards or guaranteed gigs in TV sitcoms?

Level 5 (52%)
Points: 963.6
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Message Posted On Jul 10th, 2013, 5:34 am

This is an interesting read, I didn't know any of these "swaps". Nice article Allyson, keep it up! :)


Level 2 (83%)
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Message Posted On Jul 10th, 2013, 4:21 am

Michael Keaton can do no wrong in my book. Put that man ANYWHERE he wants to be!!!!


Message Posted On Jul 9th, 2013, 7:14 am
My thought exactly

Level 4 (22%)
Points: 263.4
Since: 22/Aug/12
Message Posted On Jul 9th, 2013, 5:26 am

I actually think Cusack would have been pretty darn good in Breaking Bad.

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