It may seem like Hollywood urban legend, but some of our favorite characters in TV and movie history were originally destined for someone else to play the part. We unraveled some pretty surprising info along the way in preparing this article for nostalgic consumption.
Here are eight alternate casting choices.
8 – Tom Selleck as Indiana Jones
Contractual obligations are a fickle beast. Originally, Tom Selleck was offered the role of Indiana Jones, but CBS cock blocked him since he was already committed to Magnum P.I. He went to Hawaii to film the series, but then an actors strike happened, freeing up his time. Additionally, Raiders of the Lost Ark ended up filming in Hawaii and that really must have smarted for Selleck.
The role ended up going to Harrison Ford, which we can’t imagine the film without, but we still imagine that Selleck would have nailed it in his own way.
In 2014, Selleck opened up about the Indiana Jones movie that almost was in an interview on the Late Show with David Letterman:
We can only hope he would have kept that mustache.
7 – Louie Anderson as Larry Appleton on Perfect Strangers
What’s Cousin Larry without Balki Bartokomous? Not much, dear readers. But imagine a completely different Cousin Larry– one that ended up hosting Family Feud. That’s right, Louie Anderson was originally cast, before Mark Linn Baker, in the role of Larry Appleton.
Anderson was on board long enough for a pilot of Perfect Strangers to be shot with him as Larry, but he was ultimately replaced. No video of the pilot has surfaced, but images sure have.
Anderson briefly mentions his experience on The Pat Sajak Show in 1989 during an interview with Melanie Wilson (who played Jennifer on Perfect Strangers). Check it out at 4:04:
6 – Mickey Rourke, Sylvester Stallone, and others as Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop
The role of Axel Foley from Beverly Hills Cop is so synonymous with Eddie Murphy that it’s difficult to imagine anyone else in the role– especially Mickey Rourke or Sylvester Stallone.
According to Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, the role was first offered to Rourke, but he dropped out to make The Pope of Greenwich Village (after his $400,000 holding contract expired). Then, the script was sent to Stallone and it became a very different beast. Stallone rewrote the script into a straight action movie.
Stallone’s script was too expensive, so Eddie Murphy was brought in a month before filming, along with another round of rewrites, to deliver the Beverly Hills Cops movie we all know and love today.
Stallone’s vision of the film (sort of) lives on though his 1986 film Cobra. The How Did This Get Made podcast covers some of this in their episode on Cobra, which is a pretty fantastic one to listen to.
James Caan, Al Pacino, and Richard Pryor were all also considered for the role of Axel Foley, which is all mind-blowing, too.
5 – Rick Moranis as Phil Berquist in City Slickers
It was Rick Moranis, not Daniel Stern, that was originally intended for the role of Phil Berquist in City Slickers. Unfortunately, Moranis dropped out when his wife Ann became sick. He talks about it in Dave Thomas’ book SCTV Behind the Scenes:
I met and actually became friends with Dick Cavett. I had to pull out of City Slickers when my wife was sick. But the summer before City Slickers was shot, I spent the summer riding in Montauk getting ready for the movie. Dick had a horse at that ranch and we became friendly and rode together a couple of times (pg. 153).
He even appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman in 1990 and talked about City Slickers (which was a couple weeks away from filming at the time, from the sounds of it):
4 – Dolly Parton on Family Feud
In the late 90s, producers were looking to book a new host on the classic gameshow Family Feud. At some point along the way, rumor has it that Dolly Parton was allegedly on the list of potential hosts. That probably would have been equal parts awesome and hilarious, seeing as she is equal parts awesome and hilarious. That never went through, though, and instead Louie Anderson hosted Family Feud for the next few years. Alllllrrriiiiiiighttttt.
3 – Stephen Tobolowsky as Al Borland on Home Improvement
You sure as heckfire remember Ned Ryerson the insurance salesman, Stephen Tobolowsky, from Groundhog Day. Then you may be surprised to learn he was the original Al Borland on the TV series Home Improvement. He had the role, but was working on a movie when the show got picked up for production. The producers shifted Richard Karn from a guest spot in the pilot to becoming the iconic bearded sidekick of Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor.
2 – John Candy as Louis Tully in Ghostbusters
Rick Moranis was perfect for the role of Louis Tully in the Ghostbusters movies. The way he rambles on about discounts and savings at his client party cracks us up every time. We were pretty surprised to learn that one of our other favorite actors, John Candy, was originally supposed to play the part. Apparently, Candy didn’t quite land on an approach for the character and wanted to play him with an accent and surround himself with other offbeat traits. This wasn’t quite what director Ivan Reitman had in mind. Rick Moranis eventually landed the gig and became everyone’s favorite feature film accountant/Ghostbusting sidekick. John Candy at least made a cameo appearance in the Ghostbusters music video. Still, it would have been cool to see John Candy on The Real Ghostbusters and Camp Candy. Dream cartoon crossover?
1 – Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly in Back to the Future
For years, it seemed to be some type of urban legend that Michael J. Fox wasn’t the only time travel buddy of Doc Brown. Photos of actor Eric Stoltz in the trademark McFly garb showed up from time to time online, but it still seemed hard to believe. Definitive proof came a few years back when the first Back to the Future Blu-ray release included a few clips of Eric Stoltz playing the part of Marty McFly. According to the bonus features, the film makers all think highly of his acting ability but ultimately felt his portrayal wasn’t leading to the laughs they wanted from the audience. The producers were able to work out a deal to allow Michael J. Fox to film the movie after hours of his Family Ties TV series commitment. Can you picture anyone else in that role?