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11 Famous Actors and the Big TV Roles They Turned Down

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Getty Images

Dana Delany as Carrie Bradshaw? Cosmo Kramer as Monk? Here's a look at 11 actors who passed on some of TV's most popular shows.

1. Bridget Fonda as Ally McBeal

Calista Flockhart wasn't David E. Kelley's first choice for the lead on his series Ally McBeal; he originally offered the role to Bridget Fonda. Fonda decided to stick with films and turned him down. There were no hard feelings, though, as Kelley kept her in mind two years later when he was casting the comedy/horror flick Lake Placid.

2. Michael Richards as Adrian Monk

As Seinfeld was winding down its nine year run in 1998, the major networks were salivating to sign the series' stars to new projects. ABC pictured Michael Richards as a bumbling Inspector Clouseau-type detective and pitched a premise purchased from Disney Studios about a cop suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Richards, however, disliked the pilot script; he felt that the character of Adrian Monk didn't offer enough comedic possibilities for him to work with, so he passed on the project. With Richards' veto, ABC lost interest in the show and eventually sold the rights to cable's USA Network. Monk went on to become USA's highest-rated show and Tony Shalhoub won three Emmy Awards for his portrayal of the title character.

3. Dana Delany as Carrie Bradshaw

Sex and the City creator Darren Star first offered the role of Carrie Bradshaw to his friend, Dana Delany. Delany had previously won two Emmy Awards for her portrayal of the compassionate nurse Colleen McMurphy on China Beach, but she was still smarting from the negative reviews she'd gotten for playing a dominatrix in the 1994 film Exit to Eden. She told Star that the public would never forgive her if she talked about sex onscreen again, so the part went to Sarah Jessica Parker.

4. Paul Shaffer as George Costanza

According to Paul Shaffer's memoir, We'll Be Here for the Rest of Our Lives, Jerry Seinfeld personally left a message stating that the role of George Costanza on his upcoming pilot was Shaffer's if he wanted it. But Shaffer was preoccupied with his other work and said he never got around to returning Seinfeld's call.

5. Stephen Tobolowsky as Tim Taylor's Sidekick

Tim Allen's Home Improvement sidekick was originally Glen, not Al. When the series was first being cast, Stephen Tobolowsky—you might remember him from such roles as Bob Bishop on Heroes and Sandy Ryerson on Glee—was hired to co-host the fictitious Tool Time with Tim, but a previous commitment prevented him from appearing in the pilot episode.

Richard Karn, a struggling actor who was making ends meet by managing an apartment building, happened to meet Home Improvement's casting director while attending traffic school and finagled an audition. Karn was invited to be Tobolowsky's "placeholder" in the pilot, and then was asked to film a second episode when the series was picked up and Stephen was still off working on a different project. The studio audience reacted favorably to Karn, so when Tobolowsky ultimately bowed out of the project, "Glen" was out and "Al Borland" was in.

6. Bonnie Hunt as Jamie Buchman

Talk show host Bonnie Hunt was offered the role of Jamie Buchman on Mad About You, but she decided against it. Nevertheless, she is still frequently asked to autograph photos of Helen Hunt (who is no relation to her), and Bonnie's mom is often complimented on the success of her "other" daughter.

7. Jayne Mansfield as Ginger Grant

Blonde bombshell (and mother of Law & Order: SVU star Mariska Hargitay) nixed the role of sexy Ginger Grant on Gilligan's Island, stating "I am a movie star."

8. & 9. Ken Howard & Blythe Danner as McMillan & Wife

When ABC decided to turn the 1949 film Adam's Rib into a TV series, they cast Ken Howard (Ann Landers' son-in-law) and Blythe Danner (Gwyneth Paltrow's mom) in the roles originally played by Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. The show only lasted 13 episodes, but Howard and Danner had such good onscreen chemistry (many viewers thought they were married in real life!) that they were offered the leads in the NBC series McMillan and Wife. Neither was interested in being part of the "wheel" format of NBC's mystery movies, and the parts went to Rock Hudson and Susan St. James instead.

10. Paul Giamatti as Michael Scott

As Bill Carter reported in the New York Times back in 2006, NBC executives had a strong favorite for the role of Michael Scott on the American adaptation of The Office—Paul Giamatti. He wasn't interested, and the network eventually offered the role to Steve Carell.

11. Polly Bond as Miss Kitty

Of the many reasons actors give for turning down a role, "they offered too much money" is probably not in the top 10. Or even top 1,000. But that was the reasoning behind Polly Bond's decision to refuse the part of Miss Kitty on Gunsmoke. The former Polly Ellis had recently married Tommy Bond, a former child actor most famous for playing "Butch" on The Little Rascals. Tommy was working on the production side of a local TV station at the time, and the Gunsmoke salary would've put Polly in a situation where she was out-earning her husband, which she felt would strain their fledgling marriage. Amanda Blake went on to play Miss Kitty for an amazing 20 seasons, and Polly and Tommy Bond remained happily wedded for an amazing 54 years.

Warner Bros.
Pop Culture
Jack Torrance's Corduroy Jacket from The Shining Can Be Yours (If You've Got $12,000 to Spare)
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy … but at least he's stylish. In a 60-year career full of memorable performances, Jack Nicholson's role in The Shining as Jack Torrance—the husband, father, and blocked writer who convinces his family to move to an empty ski resort for the winter so that he can finally finish writing the great American novel, then slowly descends into madness—remains one of his most iconic, and terrifying, characters. Now, via Italian auction house Aste Bolaffi, director Stanley Kubrick's former assistant and longtime friend Emilio D'Alessandro is giving fans of the brilliantly nuanced psychological drama the chance to own a piece of the movie's history, including the burgundy corduroy jacket that Nicholson wore throughout the movie.

According to the item's listing, the jacket was chosen by Oscar-winning costume designer Milena Canonero "after Jack Nicholson insisted it should be worn by his character, Jack Torrance, and a small number of it were made for the shooting of the film." It's a perfect accessory for a variety of activities, including shooting the breeze with a cocktail-serving ghost or chasing your family through a hedge maze in the middle of a snowstorm. Just be ready to pay a pretty penny for it: the bidding starts at €10,000, or just north of $12,000.

The jacket is one of many pieces of original Kubrick memorabilia going up for sale: props from A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, Eyes Wide Shut, and Full Metal Jacket are among the other items up for grabs (for the right price), as is a rare cut of The Shining featuring a never-released scene. "These cuts, given by Kubrick to D'Alessandro, are particularly rare because the director notoriously burned all the leftovers at the conclusion of the editing," according to the listing.

You can browse the entire auction catalog, here.

[h/t IndieWire]

5 Things We Know About Deadpool 2

After Deadpool pocketed more than $750 million worldwide in its theatrical run, a sequel was put on the fast track by Fox to capitalize on the original's momentum. It's a much different position to be in for a would-be franchise that was stuck in development hell for a decade, and with Deadpool 2's May 18, 2018 release date looming, the slow trickle of information is going to start picking up speed—beginning with the trailer, which just dropped. Though most of the movie is still under wraps, here's what we know so far about the next Deadpool.


The tendency with comic book movie sequels is to keep cramming more characters in until the main hero becomes a supporting role. While Deadpool 2 is set to expand the cast from the first film with the addition of Domino (Zazie Beetz), the return of Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, and the formation of X-Force, writer Rhett Reese is adamant about still making sure it's a Deadpool movie.

"Yeah, it’ll be a solo movie," Reese told Deadline. "It’ll be populated with a lot of characters, but it is still Deadpool’s movie, this next one."


Fans have been waiting for Cable to come to theaters ever since the first X-Men movie debuted in 2000, but up until now, the silver-haired time traveler has been a forgotten man. Thankfully, that will change with Deadpool 2, and he'll be played by Josh Brolin, who is also making another superhero movie appearance in 2018 as the villain Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. In the comics, Cable and Deadpool are frequent partners—they even had their own team-up series a few years back—and that dynamic will play out in the sequel. The characters are so intertwined, there were talks of possibly having him in the original.

"It’s a world that’s so rich and we always thought Cable should be in the sequel," Reese told Deadline. "There was always debate whether to put him in the original, and it felt like we needed to set up Deadpool and create his world first, and then bring those characters into his world in the next one."

Cable is actually the son of X-Men member Cyclops and a clone of Jean Grey named Madelyne Pryor (that's probably the least confusing thing about him, to be honest). While the movie might not deal with all that history, expect Cable to still play a big role in the story.


Although Deadpool grossed more than $750 million worldwide and was a critical success, it still wasn't enough to keep original director Tim Miller around for the sequel. Miller recently came out and said he left over concerns that the sequel would become too expensive and stylized. Instead, Deadpool 2 will be helmed by John Wick (2014) director David Leitch. Despite the creative shuffling, the sequel will still feature star Ryan Reynolds and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick.

“He’s just a guy who’s so muscular with his action," Reynolds told Entertainment Weekly of Leitch's hiring. "One of the things that David Leitch does that very few filmmakers can do these days is they can make a movie on an ultra tight minimal budget look like it was shot for 10 to 15 times what it cost,"


No, this won't be the title of the movie when it hits theaters, but the working title for Deadpool 2 while it was in production was, appropriately, Love Machine.


The natural instinct for any studio is to make the sequel to a hit film even bigger. More money for special effects, more action scenes, more everything. That's not the direction Deadpool 2 is likely heading in, though, despite Miller's fears. As producer Simon Kinberg explained, it's about keeping the unique tone and feel of the original intact.

"That’s the biggest mandate going into on the second film: to not make it bigger," Kinberg told Entertainment Weekly. "We have to resist the temptation to make it bigger in scale and scope, which is normally what you do when you have a surprise hit movie."


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