There are some television roles that are intrinsically linked with the actors that played them. But what if their star-making role had gone to someone else? What effect would that have had on some of TV’s most iconic characters? Here are 10 casting decisions that almost changed your favorite shows.
10. Garrett Dillahunt as Negan, The Walking Dead
Of the entries on this list, Garrett Delahunt almost being Negan feels like a missed opportunity. It’s no secret that Watchmen actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan has been a controversial presence in The Walking Dead since his introduction at the end of season six, and Delahunt’s larger physique, and stony gaze may have inspired more terror.
9. Rory Kinnear as the 11th Doctor, Doctor Who
Before Matt Smith donned the famous bowtie and sometimes a delectable fez, as the 11th Doctor, the incoming showrunner Steven Moffat had some interesting choices for the Doctor Who lead role. One of those was Penny Dreadful’s Rory Kinnear, who has also won numerous awards for his theatre work. The role was reportedly Kinnear’s to lose but he stated that a lead role in a “kids tv shoiw” wasn’t for him. His loss was Matt Smith’s gain.
8. Sarah Michelle Gellar as Cordelia, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Sarah Michelle Gellar has never been able to shake off her most famous role as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but it could have been so different. As well as auditioning for Buffy, the 17-year-old Gellar also went for the part of Cordelia Chase, the unofficial queen of Sunnydale High. While Gellar has fantastic comic timing, it’s unthinkable now that anyone could have played Cordelia other than Charisma Carpenter.
7. Charisma Carpenter as Buffy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Just as Sarah Michelle Gellar auditioned for the role of Cordelia for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so to did Charisma Carpenter take a shot at the slaying of the vampires. Creator Joss Whedon clearly saw Carpenter’s potential, giving her the role of Cordelia instead, which lead to a starring role in the Buffy spin-off Angel.
6. Nathan Fillion as Angel, Angel
Speaking of Angel, David Boreanez nearly lost out on his career-making role of the vampire with a soul, to future Whedonite Nathon Fillion. Fillion would get another shot at Buffy in the show’s final season as he played Caleb, a demonic preacher working for the First Evil. Like everything Fillion attempts, he rocked it.
5. Nicholas Brendon as Captain Mal, Firefly
When it comes to career-making roles, no other actor is more synonymous with a short-lived TV character than Nathon Fillion is with Captain Mal Reynolds from Firefly. It could have been very different if Buffy actor Nicholas Brendon could have worked out his schedule. Yes, the plan was to give the perennial Xander his own chance at a hero role, before Fillion came in to originate a thousand best space cowboy arguments.