15 Huge Comedy Roles That (Almost) Went To Other Actors

15 Huge Comedy Roles That (Almost) Went To Other Actors

What would life be like if Jim Carrey was Buddy the Elf? Or if Robin Williams was in Harry Potter? Would we have solved world hunger by now or reversed the climate crisis? Here are 15 huge comedy roles that were almost given to someone else.

Johnny Depp as Ferris Bueller.

Johnny Depp Outsiders

American Zoetrope

John Hughes' Ferris Bueller's Day Off is known for Matthew Broderick portraying the literally too cool for school teen. However, what would the movie had been like if Captain Jack Sparrow himself had accepted the role when it was offered to him? Depp's schedule didn't allow for him to appear in the film, but Depp later said Broderick did a fantastic job with the character. 

In some alternate universe Johnny Depp is in both Ferris Bueller's Day Off and the 2005 remake of The Producers.

Jim Carrey as Buddy The Elf.

Jim Carrey Cableguy

Columbia Pictures

When the film was initially getting off the ground, around 10 years before its release, Jim Carrey was the first choice for the role of Buddy the Elf. Fortunately for us, when the film began production in 2003, Carrey was unable to commit to the role due to other projects. The role was then given to Will Ferrell resulting in one of the best Christmas movies of all time.

Jim, you already have the Grinch. That's enough Christmas for you.

John Travolta as Forrest Gump.

John Travolta Grease

Paramount Pictures Studios

It's hard to imagine anyone other than Hanks portraying Forrest Gump, but initially he was not the studios first choice. John Travolta was slated to take on the role, but had to drop out when he chose to do Pulp Fiction instead.

Travolta is in Pulp Fiction. Hanks is in Forrest Gump. All is as it should be in the universe.

Christina Applegate as Elle Woods.

Christina Applegate


Legally Blonde is remembered for the bubbly performance by Reese Witherspoon. However, it was almost Married With Children star Christina Applegate. Applegate portrayed a ditzy blonde in Married With Children which had just ended, and was afraid of pigeon-holing herself. Applegate regrets passing up the role but said “Reese deserved that and she did a much better job than I ever could.”

Tom Lennon as Ron Swanson.

Tom Lennon

Cherry Garcia Productions

What if your favorite mustache toting Reno sheriff played a different mustache toting government official? Thomas Lennon had a huge back catalog of comedy credits, so he was able to read for the role of Swanson. Nick Offerman IS Ron Swanson, so surely the character would have become something completely different if Lennon had succeeded.

Reese Witherspoon as Cher Horowitz (Clueless).

Reese Witherspoon


The Legally Blonde star was initially a top choice said director Amy Heckerling. Heckerling told Vanity Fair, "I met with Reese because everyone said 'This girl's amazing. She's going to be huge.' I saw some movie where she had a southern accent. Maybe it was on TV, a movie of the week. But I did see some scenes of hers and went: Wow. She's amazing. But Alicia is Cher."

Tiffani Thiessen as Rachel on Friends.

The former Saved by the Bell star revealed that she was one of the actresses requested to audition for the part of Rachel on Friends. She ended up not being chosen as she was only 20 years old at the time the show premiered in 1994. Jennifer Aniston was 25 and still the youngest member of the cast. 

Matt Leblanc as Phil Dunphy on Modern Family.

Speaking of Friends, it turns out Matt LeBlanc was the original choice for goofy dad, Phil Dunphy on Modern Family.  According to Matt "I remember reading it thinking, this is a really good script, I'm not the guy for this. I'd be doing the project an injustice to take this. I know what I can do, I know what I can't do. Plus, I'm having too much fun laying on the couch."

Tom Hanks in When Harry Met Sally.

Rob Reiner revealed that many actors were considered along side Billy Crystal for the role of Harry. "I talked to Albert Brooks about it," Reiner told The Daily Beast. "I talked to Tom Hanks about it. I talked to Richard Dreyfuss and Michael Keaton about it." Reiner eventually ended up going with Crystal, who was his best friend.

Robin Williams as Hagrid.

Robin Williams Jumanji

Columbia Pictures

Here's a role that isn't known for it's comedy, but COULD'VE BEEN if a different actor was chosen. Apparently, Robin Williams wanted to be Hagrid in the first film so badly that he reached out to J.K. Rowling asking her for the part. However, Rowling declined as she was adamant about an entirely British cast.

Would he play it more Genie or Patch Adams?

Dana Delany as Carrie Bradshaw in Sex in the City.

It's hard to picture Sex in the City without it's star, Sarah Jessica Parker, but that was nearly stripped away when Dana Delaney was originally offered the role, but turned it down out of fear of being typecast.

Dana now stares in the mirror every night saying “That should've been me.”

Bob Odenkirk as Michael Scott.

Bob Odenkirk The Office

NBC Universal

Odenkirk made it incredibly far in the audition process according to casting director Allison Jones and producer Ben Silverman. Jones said "“The worst thing I have ever had to do ever, is to tell Bob Odenkirk’s agent that he didn’t get The Office … Believe me, it was a bummer to make that call and I do suspect the show would have worked with Bob Odenkirk.”

Eric Stolts as Marty McFly.

Michael J Fox got the role of Marty McFly, but only after Eric Stoltz had already shot 4 weeks of footage for the film. Stoltz was removed from the film because “They just decided that they needed somebody with a comic flair,” says Christopher Lloyd. “Stoltz is a wonderful actor. I had no idea the change was coming…But, it all worked out.”

T.J. Miller as Schmidt on New Girl.

T.J. Miller

20th Century Studios

That's Right. T.J. Miller had the chance to be the fit, well kept, alpha male(ish) Schmidt we all know and love today. According to Zoe Deschanel, he was passed over for the role because at his audition "Schmidt had this scene where he took off his shirt. was like, ‘Excuse me for a second,’ so he walked out and came back with his shirt off, and he had completely covered himself in an entire bottle of baby oil.”

Jon Hamm as Jack Donaghy.

Jon Hamm

Universal Pictures

Tina Fey did write the role of Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock specifically with Alec Baldwin in mind, but early in the process Jon Hamm also read for the role! Thankfully he didn't land it because he went on to star in Mad Men, while still enjoying guest spots on 30 Rock.

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Top Image: 20th Century Studios & FOX

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