31 TV Characters Who Were Almost Played By Different Actors

Okay, but imagine Whitney Houston on The Cosby Show.


Whitney Houston was cast as Sondra, the oldest daughter on The Cosby Show, but she didn’t end up signing the contract because she wanted to pursue a singing career.

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Joshua Bassett was one of the final two choices for Harvey Kinkle in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, but the role ended up going to Ross Lynch.

Amy Sussman / Getty Images, Diyah Pera / Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

Steve Granitz / WireImage, NBC


Sandra Oh was originally called in to audition for Dr. Miranda Bailey on Grey’s Anatomy, but she liked the part of Cristina more, so she asked if she could audition for that role instead.

Emma Mcintyre / Getty Images, ABC


Stephanie Beatriz screen-tested for Amy Santiago on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but Melissa Fumero was cast instead.

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At the same time, Stephanie was also reading and screen-testing for a character named Megan, who later became Rosa. She said she was heartbroken because she didn’t believe the network would cast two Latinas on one show, but then she got cast as Rosa a few days later.


Connie Britton was one of the network’s choices to play Olivia Pope in Scandal, but creator Shonda Rhimes insisted Olivia should be played by a Black woman instead.

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Taraji P. Henson was another famous person who went in to read for the role of Olivia Pope.

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Darren Criss auditioned to play Finn Hudson on Glee, but the part went to Cory Monteith instead.

Roy Rochlin / Getty Images, Fox / Everett Collection

Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images, The CW


Keke Palmer screen-tested for the role of Iris on The Flash, but she didn’t end up getting it because she looked “a little too young” compared to Grant Gustin.

Taylor Hill / FilmMagic, The CW

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Ashley Olsen was also pitched to play Blair Waldorf.


Jennifer Lawrence also really wanted to play Serena Van Der Woodsen. She was 16 at the time she auditioned for the role.

Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images, The CW

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Nathan Lane, Steve Buscemi, and Paul Shaffer were also brought in to audition for George. Danny DeVito was offered the role but turned it down.

John Phillips / Getty Images, HBO


Lucy Hale actually auditioned for Hannah Montana when she was 15 and still lived in Tennessee, which was years before Miley Cyrus eventually got cast.

Roy Rochlin / Getty Images, Disney Channel / Everett Collection


Wesley Snipes was originally approached to play Lucious Lyons on Empire, but Taraji P. Henson said she’d only star on the show if Terrence Howard was cast instead.

Steve Granitz / WireImage, Fox


Chris Colfer originally auditioned to play Artie Abrams on Glee, but that role went to Kevin McHale. However, Ryan Murphy loved Chris so much that he created the role of Kurt just for him.

Paul Archuleta / Getty Images, Fox / Everett Collection


Jeremy Strong auditioned for the role of Roman Roy on Succession, but Jesse Armstrong, the show’s creator, felt that Kieran Culkin was a “slam dunk.”

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Instead, Jeremy landed the role of Kendall Roy, and Jesse shared, “There’s no gaps in his armor‚ he is the character. He’s pretty extraordinary.”


Rob Lowe was originally offered the role of Derek Shepherd on Grey’s Anatomy, but he turned down the role and it went to Patrick Dempsey instead.

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Madchen Amick was in the running for Gilmore Girls‘ Lorelai Gilmore, but she didn’t get the job because the network didn’t think she was old enough to play a mom.

Charley Gallay / Getty Images, Warner Bros / ©Warner Bros/courtesy Everett Co


Sonequa Martin-Green auditioned for the part of Michonne on The Walking Dead, but the role ended up going to Danai Gurira. However, the producers loved her so much that they created the role of Sasha for her.

Gary Gershoff / Getty Images, AMC


Matt LeBlanc was offered the role of Phil Dunphy on Modern Family, but he felt like he wasn’t the best fit. The role went to Ty Burell instead.

Jeffrey Mayer / WireImage, ABC

Matt told USA Today, “I remember reading it thinking, this is a really good script, [but] 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.”


Mahershala Ali auditioned for the role of “a merchant who got locked in a safe on Season 3” of Game of Thrones, aka Xaro Xhoan Daxos, and he said it was one of the “worst auditions” of his life.

Steve Granitz / WireImage, HBO

He told Jimmy Kimmel that he felt really prepared going in but was totally thrown off when he saw the backless stools he had to sit on during the audition.


Oliver Hudson was in the final running for Jack Pearson on This Is Us, but by the time he was scheduled to screen-test with Mandy Moore, Oliver went on an already-planned fishing trip instead.

Jon Kopaloff / Getty Images, NBC


Joshua Jackson was originally announced to play Owen Hunt on Grey’s Anatomy, but just weeks before he was scheduled to shoot his first episode, the TV writers went on strike. By the time the strike ended, Joshua had already moved on to star on Fringe.

Jason Laveris / FilmMagic


Betty White was actually supposed to play Blanche on The Golden Girls, but director Jay Sandrich felt that part was too similar to Betty’s role on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, so she played Rose instead.

Amanda Edwards / WireImage, NBC


Macaulay Culkin was pursued several times to play a role on The Big Bang Theory, but he couldn’t see himself starring on a sitcom.

Kimberly White / Getty Images, CBS

He didn’t name which role he was asked to play, but he did share that he was flattered they’d asked.


Penn Badgley screen-tested to play Jesse Pinkman on Breaking Bad, but the role went to Aaron Paul instead.

Jim Spellman / Getty Images, AMC

Chase Crawford told the Independent that Breaking Bad was actually casting around the same time Gossip Girl was. Penn was later offered the role of Dan Humphrey.


Liza Weil originally auditioned for Rory Gilmore on Gilmore Girls. The producers loved her but didn’t think she was right for the role, so they created Paris Geller for her instead.

Leon Bennett / WireImage, Warner Bros / Everett Collection


And finally, Courteney Cox was originally offered the role of Rachel on Friends, but she turned it down because she felt like she related to Monica more.

Kevin Winter / Getty Images, NBC

Jane Krakowski, Tiffani Thiessen, and Téa Leoni auditioned for Rachel too.

So, which almost-casting were you most shocked by? Let us know in the comments!

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