Recasts, replacements and rejections. The Alternate Reality of TV Shows

No, this is NOT a post about Fringe.

There are many roles on hit TV shows that were rejected by famous actors. Sometimes producers recast parts many times before they start shooting and occasionally actors are replaced even after the pilot has been shot.

All these situations leave us wondering how the shows we love could have turned out … so that is what I am talking about when I say ‘Alternate reality’

Let’s see what actors ‘almost’ took over some of the most iconic characters on TV.

Character: Daenerys Targaryen Game of Thrones

The original Daenerys was Tamzin Merchant, who you may remember as King Henry VIII’s wife on The Tudors. Tamzin left the project for ‘unknown’ reasons, but from everything I’ve read I got the feeling that it was not her decision. Tamzin was later replaced by Emilia Clarke who will forever be remembered as the Khalessi of Vas Dotrhak. Yes, Emilia Clarke was a virtual nobody before Game of Thrones but I cannot possibly imagine anyone more perfect for the part. This recast was probably a great decision. I never heard of Emilia before, yet I knew a lot of Tamzin’s work. I believe Tamzin is an OK actress and she was very good in some of the roles I’ve seen her play. However she does not have the commanding presence and depth of Emilia. From being an unknown actress Emilia Clarke has become a fan favorite. Daenerys is certainly my favorite character (after Tyrion and Arya that is).

Character: Sawyer (James Ford)  Lost
Lost is probably the show where most actors originally auditioned for different characters. I could probably do an entire post about it. Mainly everybody wanted to be Sawyer. And I mean everybody! Mathew Fow, Jorge Garcia and Dominic Monaghan all auditioned to play Sawyer… which makes me think that the casting call for Sawyer was seriously vague. It is hard to imagine how it could have been because we think of those actors as the characters they ended up playing. But if you watch all the audition tapes it is crystal clear why Josh Holloway got the role. He absolutely killed the audition like none of the other actors did. You just can’t out-sass Sawyer!

Character: Susan Mayer Desperate Housewives

The role that gave Teri Hatcher her big comeback was previously offered to Calista Flockhart. Lucky for Terri, Calista declined. A couple of years later she returned to TV on another ABC show Brothers and Sisters. So, Calista, A.K.A Ally McBeal/Mrs. Harrison Ford… was almost Susan Mayer. I actually can see it happening. Calista does the neurotic –slightly crazy very well as we know from her years in Ally. However I do think Terri has a sweetness (sometimes too much) that Calista doesn’t have.  I guess the character would have developed in a different way. I can see Calista playing a stronger version of Susan (if equally cooky). I could go either way with this one. I guess I wasn’t too attached to the Susan character to care too much. However I wouldn’t dare of replacing Bree (She was almost played by Dana Delany BTW).

Character: Dr. Derek Mc Dreamy Sheppard Grey’s Anatomy

The first choice for McDreamy was actually Rob Lowe (Isaiah Washington also auditioned). And you can see why… he is pretty dreamy. However, he turned down the show to be the leading characters of another show Dr. Vegas… remember that show? Yeah… nobody does. Needless to say, Rob Lowe may have made a mistake on this one. Like Calista he also ended up on Brothers and Sisters. I think Rob would have been a very good fit for the role. I can easily imagine him as the handsome doctor; however I think I prefer Patrick Dempsey. He is equally handsome, but he has sweetness where Rob has cockiness. So I think they ended up with the better choice here.

Don Draper Mad Men

They didn’t offer the role to Jon Hamm right away because they thought he wasn’t “sexy enough”… yeah, I am going to give you a moment to process and laugh at that… So, who was sexy enough? According to the casting directors: Thomas Jane. They offered him the role of Don Draper, but he declined because he ‘didn’t do TV’. I don’t really know what Thomas Jane did back then. I know the guy but I just can’t think of a single movie he was in. Incidentally he later did a TV show Hung, which only lasted for 2 seasons and was nowhere near as big as Mad Men. I guess I could see Thomas as Don, I do think he is good looking and interesting. I could have watched that. But… Jon Hamm is a million times better. I believe he is a better actor than Jane, he has a more understated style and yes… he is better looking and sexier. Where Thomas would have been an adequate Don, Jon reached iconic status and made Don Draper one of the most recognizable characters in TV history. 
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The TV Empress is a Media Management graduate, screenwriter in the making (and financial engineer in the meantime). She has serious plans to take over global television. You can follow the TVEmpress on twitter @TVRepublik

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