I LOVE these. I'm fascinated by alternate-reality scenarios. For example, what if my blog was written by Mark Wahlberg? Think about it. Anyway, these are just a few of the original casting ideas for some of the most memorable TV shows and movies of all time. This is almost entirely based on internet scuttlebutt, so who knows how true some of it is or isn't.
* Depending on who you talked to, Burt Ward (best known as Robin on the old Batman TV series) either turned down the role of Benjamin in The Graduate, or he and the film's producers wanted him in the role, but the studio shot it down feeling that nobody would take him seriously due to his previous work as Robin.
* Eric Stoltz had already spent a couple of months shooting as Marty in Back To The Future before he unceremoniously got the boot in favour of Michael J. Fox. Apparently Fox was the original first choice for the role, but there were scheduling issues between the film and Family Ties that didn't get worked out until the movie had already gone into production. Robert Zemeckis felt so strongly about Fox that he got the studio to basically let him re-start filming the movie with MJF on board.
* In case of a TV schedule that did end up interfering with a major film series, Tom Selleck's commitments to Magnum PI kept him from starring in Raiders of the Lost Ark as Indiana Jones.
* Speaking of Ford, he also lucked out by getting the role of Han Solo over other auditioners like Kurt Russell, Billy Dee Williams, James Caan and (as memorably spoofed once on SNL) Christopher Walken. Caan, by the way, was also an early choice to play Randle in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.
* In an early draft of the pilot script for LOST, the character of Jack was going to die midway through the episode. Basically, if you've seen the actual first episode, Jack would've been the one killed by the Monster instead of the Oceanic 815 pilot. The idea would've been that Jack would've been built up in the first half of the episode as the heroic doctor and leader of the castaways, and thus his sudden death would've been more of a shock to the viewers and a hint as to the show's unpredictability. Jack would've been played, in this scenario, by Michael Keaton --- even the show's promos would've hyped it up as "Michael Keaton stars in Lost" in order to increase the surprise.
* Also on the topic of Lost, Matthew Fox, Jorge Garcia and Dominic Monaghan all originally read for the role of Sawyer. Yunjin Kim read for the role of Kate and producers liked her so much that the roles of Sun and Jin were specifically created with her and Daniel Dae Kim in mind.
* Molly Ringwald, Michelle Pfeiffer and Meg Ryan all turned down Julia Roberts' role in Pretty Woman. Al Pacino apparently was very close to accepting Richard Gere's part. How fucking creepy would that movie have been with Pacino and Ringwald?
* Lisa Kudrow was originally cast as Roz in Frasier and shot the original version of the pilot, but she was replaced after producers felt that the Roz character needed a stronger personality to be able to stand up to Frasier (and, presumably, since Daphne already filled the void of 'oddball female character for Frasier to raise his eyebrow at').
* Speaking of Friends, Courteney Cox and Jennifer Aniston each initially read for the roles of Rachel and Monica, respectively. Jon Cryer read for the role of Ross.
* And, speaking of Cox, she was the original choice to play Teri Hatcher's role in Desperate Housewives, but turned it down because she wanted to take a break from TV.
* William Devane was the first choice to play Sam Malone on Cheers. This tidbit will be of great interest to my friend Dave, a.k.a. the only man in the world who does a William Devane impression.
* Al and Peg Bundy were originally going to be played by Sam Kinison and Roseanne. Yikes.
* Jason Sudeikis's role as Tina Fey's boyfriend on 30 Rock (and his impression of Jim Halpert on SNL) are said to be partially inspired by the fact by that Sudeikis was considered for the role of Jim on the Office.
* Alan Alda and Sidney Poitier were initial contenders to play President Bartlet on The West Wing.