TV Stars Who Wanted One Role In A Series But Were Cast In AnotherPublished on August 21, 2017. Updated June 23, 2020
The auditioning process can be stressful and frustrating for any actor and sometimes auditions don’t go as planned. When given a script, many actors and actresses are asked to audition for a specific role or connect with one that they are determined to get, but often times producers and creators have other ideas! While all of these popular TV stars definitely ended up getting a role in the show they were auditioning for, it certainly wasn’t the part they had in mind. Here are some TV stars who wanted one role but were cast in another:
25. Courteney Cox – Friends
At this point many are well aware of the hard work that went into bringing the cast of Friends together, and one step in that process was getting the right role of Courteney Cox. When she came in, Cox was reading for the role of Rachel, but the one she really wanted was Monica. “We originally offered Rachel to Courteney Cox,” creator Marta Kauffman said. “But she said she wanted to do Monica, not Rachel.” Obviously everyone involved made the right choice, and there would have been no better Monica than Courteney Cox, and no better Rachel than Jennifer Aniston.
24. Rainn Wilson – The Office
Many U.S. adaptations of British comedies don’t go quite as well as hoped, but that was certainly not the case for The Office. While the series has gone on to become one of the most beloved comedies of recent years, it could have looked a lot different. It turns out, Rainn Wilson was actually the very first person to audition for the series and actually read for the role of Michael Scott! Wilson admits his audition was really bad however, and the role he really wanted was that of Dwight. “They keep wanting to put it on the DVD of my audition as Michael. I was terrible. It was awful. It was never meant to be. It was just one of those things that I just basically did my Ricky Gervais impersonation because I really didn’t know what to do with the character,” he said. “And I knew I was hungering for Dwight. And I knew Dwight was the one that was right in my wheelhouse. And I was like, oh, let me at this one. This one is – I’ve got to get this guy. And I remember there was some monologue I was doing about how I could drink my own urine. And I was like, aw, I want to say that. I want to say that line so bad. So my Dwight audition, needless to say, was a lot better than my Michael Scott audition.”
23. Sonequa Martin-Green – The Walking Dead
In many cases when an actor auditions for one role but gets another, it is because that while they weren’t right for a certain role, their audition was so impressive, showrunners just had to have them on the series anyway. That is exactly the case for Sonequa Martin-Green who actually first auditioned for Michonne on The Walking Dead. Although they knew they had the right person as Michonne with Danai Gurira, they couldn’t let Martin-Green go after her audition, so they created the role of Sasha Williams just for her.
22. Iwan Rheon – Game of Thrones
Fortunately for Iwan Rheon, he had a part in one of the biggest series in TV history, Game of Thrones, but unfortunately for the actor it was as one of the most hated characters in TV history. Before Rheon was the despicable Ramsay Bolton, he actually auditioned for the much more beloved role of Jon Snow for the series. “I auditioned for the pilot of Game of Thrones, and was down to the last two for Jon Snow, so I guess they knew me,” Rheon said of being cast as Ramsay.
21. Chelsea Peretti – Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Chelsea Peretti may no longer be a main star of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but her time as Gina Linetti will not be forgotten, but at the same time it almost never happened and she actually auditioned for the role of Rosa Diaz. “Should I drop a bomb? I initially auditioned for the part of Rosa, which was not called Rosa at the time,” she said during a HuffPost Live Interview. “Did not get it, but they called me and were like, ‘We’re going to write a different part for you.’ So my part was not in the script that I initially read.” Like so many others, Peretti might not have been right in the role of Rosa, but she was so good they made a role just for her and Gina Linetti was born.
20. Sandra Oh – Grey’s Anatomy
Sandra Oh is incredible in everything she does, but many will agree her most defining role so far has been as Cristina Yang on Grey’s Anatomy. Unbelievably, she was actually up for a completely different lead role on the series first. “I first auditioned for the part of Miranda Bailey,” Oh shared back in 2006 at PaleyFest. She went on to explain that once she saw the role of Dr. Cristina however, she “practiced asking for what she wants” and turned down continuing the process for Bailey in order to pursue the role of Cristina. Now, fans couldn’t be happier with the decision because Chandra Wilson is the perfect Miranda Bailey and Oh was absolutely incredible as Cristina Yang.
19. Jon Favreau – Friends
Jon Favreau’s career in Hollywood has been wildly impressive, but before he was directing live-action Disney remakes or starring as Happy in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he portrayed a love interest for Monica Geller on Friends, Pete Becker. Before Favreau became Pete however, he actually auditioned for a main role in the cast, and Monica’s central love interest, Chandler Bing. Reports indicate that Favreau was actually offered the role of Chandler but turned it down to pursue other opportunities. Regardless, fans loved him as Pete, and no one could ever be better than Matthew Perry as Chandler.
18. Liza Weil – Gilmore Girls
Gilmore Girls just wouldn’t have been the same without Alexis Bledel and Liza Weil’s dynamic as Rory Gilmore and Paris Geller, but originally Weil wanted the role of Rory. Following her audition, creator Amy Sherma-Palladino couldn’t quite see Weil as the character, but liked the actress so much she told her if the series got picked she had an idea for a part she wanted to write just for Weil. Of course, that turned out to be Paris Geller and the rest is Gilmore Girls history.
17. Norman Reedus – The Walking Dead
Norman Reedus is one of the biggest stars of The Walking Dead, but before he played Daryl Dixon, he actually came in to read for Merle Dixon. Unfortunately when Reedus auditioned, the role of Merle had already been cast, but because his abilities were so impressive then-showrunner Frank Darabont decided to create Daryl Dixon based on Reedus’ abilities. At this point, no one can imagine Reedus as anyone else, and it is all thanks to him coming in for a different part.
16. Olivia Wilde – The O.C.
The role of Marissa Cooper on The O.C. is a contentious one. Despite being the main character, it didn’t take long for fans to really dislike her, but would it have been the same if Mischa Barton hadn’t been in the role? The O.C.‘s creator Joshua Schwartz revealed that Olivia Wilde actually auditioned for the role as well and it came down between the two women for the part. In the end, it was decided that Wilde was “too tough and confident” to play someone as sensitive and damaged as Marissa. Instead they brought Wilde in as the “resident bad girl” and manager of the bait shop Alex Kelly in season two.
15. Laura Prepon – Orange is the New Black
Orange is the New Black was one of Netflix’s first major successes, and of course that was due to its incredible cast. Following the success of the show, casting director Jennifer Euston revealed that Laura Prepon actually first auditioned for the role of Piper Chapman. Euston said that Prepon “didn’t quite have the girl-next-door feel” they had envisioned. Despite not being right for the part of Piper, they knew they wanted Prepon on the show so they formed the role of Piper’s ex-girlfriend, Alex, for her. “I was so dazzled by how f—ing good she was that it just was like, ‘All right, what are we going to do with her?'” the showrunner has said.
14. Jessica Capshaw -Grey’s Anatomy
While some Grey’s stars just had a change of character from the one they originally auditioned for, it was a much harder process for Jessica Capshaw. As it turns out, Capshaw actually auditioned for two different roles and was turned away twice before finally becoming Dr. Arizona Robbins. She first auditioned for the role of Nurse Rose, a love interest for Derek Shepherd in seasons four and five, but the part went to Lauren Stamile. She then auditioned for the part of Sadie Harris, but that went to Melissa George. It turns out, Shonda Rhimes and others loved Capshaw and wanted a better and bigger role for Capshaw, which is how she eventually became Arizona.
13. Bethany Joy Lenz and James Lafferty- One Tree Hill
It is hard to imagine any of the One Tree Hill stars in any other role on the show because they played their parts so perfectly, but in the beginning Bethany Joy Lenz wasn’t just up for Haley. When she was brought in for the show, she was actually asked to audition for Brooke Davis and Haley James. Because she wanted the role of Haley more, the actress later admitted that she purposely didn’t put as much effort into her audition for Brooke to make producers see she would make a better Haley. As for casting the Scott brothers, Mark Schwahn immediately had Chad Michael Murray in mind, but not for Lucas. After seeing Murray as the “bad boy” in Gilmore Girls Schwahn thought Murray would make a great Nathan, but it was the actor who connected with Lucas more and proved it was the better role for him. James Lafferty later admitted that he actually first auditioned for Lucas before nabbing the role of Nathan. “I read the script while I was still in high school, and originally auditioned for the character of Lucas. But they had already chosen Chad Michael Murray.”
12. Ed Westwick – Gossip Girl
For six seasons Ed Westwick stole the show on Gossip Girl with his amazing portrayal of bad boy turned good guy Chuck Bass. While we can’t imagine anyone else in the role, it turns out that Chuck Bass wasn’t the character he was aiming for when he auditioned for the show. After reading the script, Westwick read for the role of Nate Archibald on tape, but things changed for the creators when he auditioned in person. “Ed Westwick came in and blew us away. He originally read for Nate, but Stephanie and I looked at each other and wrote, ‘Chuck?’ on a piece of paper. Once we cast him, he had to figure out his green card. We got several calls that he actually wasn’t going to get it in time,” co-creator Josh Schwartz said of finding their perfect Chuck Bass.
11. Jensen Ackles – Supernatural
With its eleventh season back in 2015-2016, Supernatural became the longest-running American live-action fantasy TV series, and much of that is thanks to the fantastic casting and chemistry of Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester and Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester, but things could have been much different. When casting for the series began, Jensen Ackles read the script and went in to audition for Sam even though he had liked Dean better as a character and related to him more. While producers knew they liked Ackles, they also knew Sam wasn’t the right role for him so after Jared Padalecki was cast as Sam, they brought Ackles back in to read for Dean, and he of course landed the part.
10. Rowan Blanchard and Sabrina Carpenter – Girl Meets World
Even though Girl Meets World didn’t find the same success as its predecessor Boy Meets World, it still gained a lot of fans over its three seasons. The young talented cast were great in their roles, so many are surprised to learn that the two stars, Rowan Blanchard and Sabrina Carpenter, originally auditioned for each other’s characters. In an interview, Blanchard, who starred as Riley Matthews, admitted that she initially auditioned for the role of Riley’s best friend Mya and when Sabrina auditioned, she did so for Riley. The pair actually stayed in the roles as they went through the auditioning process but when they got put together they realized that each other’s characters fit their personalities better, so they swapped.
9. Hank Azaria – Friends
Creating the perfect cast for Friends was paramount in the show’s success, and many well known stars auditioned for all the roles before the final six were cast, including Hank Azaria. The popular actor really wanted to land the role of Joey Tribbiani and was very passionate about the part. “That’s the only job I ever auditioned for twice. I thought it was so good — they had rejected me once — I said, ‘I’m going back, I’m gonna do it again, I’m gonna try it again,” he explained. While his second audition didn’t go any better than the first, he did end up with the very memorable guest role of David through five episodes of Friends.
8. Miley Cyrus – Hannah Montana
It is hard to imagine a time before Miley Cyrus was one of the most talked about stars in Hollywood, and that is because she found fame young as the star of Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana, but when the idea for the show came up, she wasn’t going for the lead at all. As the show was being developed, Cyrus auditioned for the “best friend” role of Lilly Truscott, and it was the producers who immediately knew she should be the star. Miley was given the role and the character’s name was changed from Chloe Stewart to Miley Stewart and Emily Osment was cast as Lilly Truscott.
7. Sarah Michelle Gellar and Charisma Carpenter – Buffy
Sarah Michelle Gellar has become a pop culture icon because of her portrayal of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the television series from 1997-2003, but when she was first cast in the series, she wasn’t in the lead role. When she auditioned for the series Gellar was actually offered the role of Cordelia Chase and Charisma Carpenter went after the role of Buffy, but after producers saw Carpenter audition they realized they had made a mistake. As a result they asked Gellar to come back and audition for Buffy and at the same time asked Carpenter to be Cordelia instead, meaning the show could have looked very different.
6. Alona Tal – Veronica Mars
Finding the right lead is the key to any series and when it came to finding the right Veronica Mars for his series, Rob Thomas had a difficult decision to make. Before casting Kristen Bell, Thomas really wanted Alona Tal in the role and even though she didn’t get the lead he did cast her in the recurring role of Meg Manning for the series.
5. Chris Colfer – Glee
For fans of Glee, they know that the series would not be the same without Chris Colfer as Kurt Hummel, so it might be surprising to learn that when Colfer auditioned it wasn’t for Kurt; in fact there wasn’t even a Kurt character yet. “I was auditioning for the part of Artie, the kid in the wheelchair, and I didn’t get it, obviously. So that was it. So they invented a character for me. They created Kurt specifically,” Colfer explained of his breakout role.
4. Jason Dohring and Teddy Dunn – Veronica Mars
Alona Tal wasn’t the only Veronica Mars star to get a different role than the one she auditioned for! When getting the series into production, Jason Dohring auditioned for the role of Duncan Kane and Teddy Dunn auditioned for the role of Logan Echolls. As fans of the series are well aware, Dohring went on to become Logan and Dunn became Duncan for the series and that was because after Dohring’s audition they realized he would make the perfect Logan because he gave the character an “evil but fun” feel. Not to mention at the time the character of Logan was only supposed to be in the pilot episode, but Dohring impressed them so much they wrote him in to more until he became one of the stars.
3. The Vampire Diaries
Everyone found their perfect fit on The Vampire Diaries, but it is rather surprising how many stars of the show actually auditioned for different roles than the ones they were cast for. One of the main casting changes fans could have seen was that Paul Wesley actually first auditioned for the role of Damon Salvatore. After Ian Somerhalder was cast in the role, Wesley re-read and got the part of Stefan instead. Similarly, Zach Roerig had his mind set on the character of Stefan Salvatore when he went into auditions for the show, but was cast instead as Matt Donovan. There was also a lot of interest for the role of Elena, and Torrey DeVitto who was actually married to Paul Wesley from 2011-2013, auditioned for the part, but lost out to Nina Dobrev. Luckily she was kept in mind and two years later producers cast her as Dr. Meredith Fell.
2. Isaiah Washington – Grey’s Anatomy
A lot of Grey’s Anatomy popularity was thanks to Patrick Dempsey as Dr. Derek Shepherd, aka Dr. McDreamy, but the show could have looked a lot different if someone else had gotten the role first. When Isaiah Washington auditioned for the show, he read for the role of Shepherd and was close to getting it because originally Shonda Rhimes wanted an interracial couple as the main couple on the show. In the end, it was Pompeo who wanted Dempsey as Shepherd because she didn’t want the show to get too close to her own personal life as she is in a real-life interracial relationship with husband Chris Ivery. Rhimes still really liked Washington though, and he was instead cast as Dr. Preston Burke.
1. Pretty Little Liars
Much like The Vampire Diaries, many of Pretty Little Liars’ stars actually read for roles different than the ones they ended up with. In the beginning, Lucy Hale auditioned for the role of Hanna but was given the role of Aria; Shay Mitchell read for the role of Spencer but was cast as Emily; Janel Parrish also auditioned for the role of Spencer but was instead given the part of Mona; and Keegan Allen had his sights set on the role of Wren but ended up being cast as Toby.