Television Roles Made Iconic by Actors Almost Went to Someone Else

It Wasn’t Meant to Be: TV Roles That Were Almost Played by Someone Else

It’s hard to imagine the television role of Tony Soprano from The Sopranos-famed being played by anyone but James Gandolfini, but did you know that Ray Liotta turned it down before it was given to Gandolfini?


And The X-Files’ Agent Scully was almost played by bombshell Pamela Anderson. So many of our favorite TV characters were almost played by someone else. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite characters that were so close to being so different and may not have been as iconic and unforgettable in the hands of another actor.

Pam Anderson
Pam Anderson

Matthew Broderick, Breaking BadBueller? Bueller? Yep, Matthew Broderick was almost cast to play the infamous, drug making chemistry teacher, Walter White. Broderick and John Cusack were both looked at as being options for the lead, but ultimately Bryan Cranston walked away with the role of a lifetime and many Emmy awards for his interpretation.

Matthew Broderick
Matthew Broderick

Connie Britton, Scandal– No one can handle the role of Olivia Pope quite like Kerry Washington. But show creator, Shonda Rhimes remembers getting a call suggesting Connie Britton would be perfect for the role. Rhimes disagreed and stated, “It would be, except Olivia Pope is black”. She insisted that the role stay true to the person who inspired it, crisis management expert Judy Smith. Washington would go on to get the role, making her the first black woman to lead a television series in 37 years.

Rob Lowe
Rob Lowe

Rob Lowe, Grey’s AnatomyWho knows if Grey’s Anatomy would have been as wildly successful as it is if McDreamy had not been played by Patrick Dempsey. But did you know Dempsey was not the first pick to play the handsome neurosurgeon? Casting directors wanted Rob Lowe, but he had just signed on to play a different doctor, Dr. Vegas. While Dr. Vegas fizzled after a few episodes, Dempsey snagged the role that would reignite his career.

connie britton
Connie Britton

Would these characters have been as iconic if casting had gone a different way? We’ll never know. But it’s fun to see what almost was and to appreciate the magic the show creators, casting directors, and actors themselves brought to the characters we have come to love.


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