Just over a month ago my husband and I—in search of a new television show to get hopelessly addicted to—came upon Breaking Bad on Netflix and in a bandwagon moment of “Well, everyone on the internet told us to watch The Wire too” jumped in, even though all I could think was, “REALLY? Bryan Cranston? You mean, the dad from Malcolm in the Middle? That dude is cooking meth? They really want me to buy this?! There was no one else to take on this role? Were they expecting it to not get picked up past a first season?”
Oh how wrong I was.
It took me less than three episodes to realize that Bryan Cranston is kind of a genius and the most perfect person to play Walter White. I couldn’t even imagine anyone else playing him. And then I read that both Matthew Broderick and John Cusack turned down the role.
I wonder if they kick themselves every time Cranston gives an Emmy acceptance speech.
It seems, though, that this isn’t the first time this has happened. I have heard that Sarah Michelle Gellar turned down Alicia Silverstone’s role in Clueless and Katie Holmes turned down Sarah Michelle Gellar’s role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
And, you know, Eric Stoltz spent five weeks filming as Marty McFly in Back to the Future.
So, it’s safe to say that there’s probably a lot of celebrity self-kicking.
Ray Liotta had the chance to play Tony Soprano on The Sopranos, but passed to focus on his film career. Mistake.
Michael Keaton turned down the role of Jack Shepard on Lost. Mistake.
Gillian Anderson turned down the chance to play Lady Cora Crawley on Downtown Abbey. Mistake.
Dana Delaney didn’t sign on to play Carrie Bradshaw on Sex & the City because she “didn’t want to be in a show about sex.” Mistake. Big mistake.
Will Smith turned down the role of Neo in The Matrix. He tells Wired that he’s glad he did it. “I watched Keanu’s performance—and very rarely do I say this—but I would have messed it up. I would have absolutely messed up The Matrix. At that point I wasn’t smart enough as an actor to let the movie be. Whereas Keanu was smart enough to just let it be. Let the movie and the director tell the story, and don’t try and perform every moment.” I call shenanigans and I say mistake.
Craig T. Nelson, who has a sweet—and perfect for him—gig on Parenthood, was originally offered Ed O’Neill’s role of Jay Pritchett on Modern Family. He passed due to lack of a big paycheck, not because of Parenthood.
We have just started watching—and have become hopelessly addicted to—Homeland. Please don’t tell me that anyone turned down any of those roles. I don’t think my heart could take it.
Or theirs either.