VOICE OVER: Kirsten Ria Squibb
WRITTEN BY: Tal Fox
They're iconic, but these actors got different TV roles than they auditioned for. Our countdown includes "The Office," "Riverdale," "Grey's Anatomy," and more!
Top 10 Actors Who Got Different TV Roles Than They Auditioned For
Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Actors Who Got Different TV Roles Than They Auditioned For
For this list, we’ll be looking at actors who originally auditioned for a different character in their respective TV shows than the one that they’re best known for today.
Would you have cast these shows differently? Let us know in the comments.
#10: John Krasinski
“The Office” (2005-13)
Could you picture a version of “The Office” where Rainn Wilson plays Michael Scott and John Krasinski plays Dwight Schrute? Well, if the casting process had gone a little differently, this could have been the case. During his audition, the fresh-out-of-college Krasinski decided to take a chance and ask to audition for Jim Halpert instead. His forwardness was not received well by the casting directors. Eventually, though, they let him read for Jim where he proceeded to almost blow his chance once again with an offhand remark. Thankfully, his faux-pas was taken with good humor, and well, we know what happened next.
#9: Betty White & Rue McClanahan
“The Golden Girls” (1985-92)
Shortly after their show, “Mama’s Family” was canceled, Betty White and Rue McClanahan were brought in to read for “The Golden Girls.” However, producers originally envisioned White as Blanche Devereaux and McClanahan as Rose Nylund. Pretty hard to imagine now, right? However, at the time the production team had their past roles in mind. White had played the man-hungry Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” and McClanahan portrayed the airheaded Vivian Harmon on “Maude.” However, the women worried that playing similar characters yet again might get them typecast. So, at the last minute, they decided to switch. And we wouldn’t want it any other way.
#8: Jensen Ackles
After reading the script for “Supernatural,” Ackles decided to try out for the series. Although he related more to Dean, he went in to read for Sam as that was the only character they were auditioning for at the time. He explained that since Sam was the pivotal character for the first few seasons, they wanted to cast him before anyone else. Like Krasinki though, he took a shot and told the casting directors that he felt more of a connection with Dean. Luckily for him, they were on the same page and also thought that he was more cut out for the older Winchester brother as well.
#7: Lucy Hale & Sasha Pieterse
“Pretty Little Liars” (2010-17)
These actors were destined to be part of the “PLL” family, just not necessarily in the roles they first envisioned. Can you picture Mona actress Janel Parrish (xref) as Spencer Hastings? How about Lucy Hale or Sasha Pieterse as Hanna Marin? Hale fell in love with the script and wanted to play Hanna. However, the show’s creator, Marlene King saw her as Aria. After chemistry reads as both characters, Hale agreed that Aria was the role that suited her better. Pieterse also wanted to play Hanna but was cast as Alison when the showrunners discovered that she was only 12 years old. Despite her young age, she still dominated every scene.
#6: Madelaine Petsch
If you ever thought that no one could play Riverdale’s mean girl, Cheryl Blossom, better than Madelaine Petsch, you’re not the only one. A few days after auditioning for “Legends of Tomorrow,” Petsch returned to audition for the polar opposite of Cheryl, Betty Cooper. But as we now know, Lili Reinhart landed that job. Nevertheless, Madelaine believes that even during her audition, the casting directors already knew that they wanted her for Cheryl. She might be far kinder than her on-screen counterpart but she shares her strong-willed determination. If you ask us, the right actors were cast in the right role.
#5: Miley Cyrus
“Hannah Montana” (2006-11)
Miley was just 11 years old when she first auditioned for the role of best friend, Lilly Truscott. She was later called back to audition for the lead role, then named Zoe Stewart. Casting directors were torn between Miley’s obvious talent and her age, eventually deciding that she was just too young for the part. Still, she persisted, trying anything she could think of to win over the directors. Of course, she eventually landed the gig and the role of Lilly went to Emily Osment. So we suppose that you could say that we got “The Best of Both Worlds”.
#4: Chelsea Peretti
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (2013-21)
The women of the “Nine-Nine” each bring something special to the cast. Rosa is a total badass, Amy is fiercely diligent, and Gina... But did you know that Stephanie Beatriz first auditioned to play Amy Santiago? Ultimately though, she felt that Rosa was a better fit. Meanwhile, Chelsea Peretti actually read for the character that became Rosa Diaz. Her post-audition notes essentially stated that she wasn’t cop material. So instead they wrote in a new character just for her and we’re incredibly glad that they did. This show is so perfectly cast. Even Gina knows that the world just wouldn’t be the same without her.
#3: Sandra Oh
“Grey’s Anatomy” (2005-)
As we’ve seen, sometimes an actor knows in their bones which character they’re meant for, but it takes a little longer for the stars to align. Grey’s Anatomy's creators wanted Oh to audition for Miranda Bailey, but she just knew that she was destined to play Cristina Yang. She decided to practice asking for what she wanted and clearly, it paid off. She also said that she couldn’t imagine the show without her co-star, Chandra Wilson. Things weren’t so smooth sailing for their castmate, Jessica Capshaw either. She auditioned for both Nurse Rose and Dr. Sadie Harris before finally landing the gig as Arizona Robbins.
#2: Darren Criss
Before joining the “Glee” family as Blaine Anderson in season two, Darren Criss had originally auditioned to play Finn Hudson. Of course, Cory Monteith got that job and, in hindsight, Criss admitted that even he couldn’t imagine himself playing the jock. However, the casting director, Robert Ulrich had seen Criss in “A Very Potter Musical,” and wanted him to audition for Kurt’s love interest. Incidentally, Chris Colfer impressed Ryan Murphy so much during his audition for Artie, that Kurt was written in just for him. Meanwhile, Criss auditioned on a Friday and by the following Monday, it was his first day on set.
#1: Courteney Cox & Jennifer Aniston
“Friends” is such a huge phenomenon that many of us almost feel like an additional member of their tight-knit group. After all, we probably know them even better than our own buddies. This is why it’s so hard to imagine anyone else playing those iconic characters. However, the producers initially had Courteney Cox in mind for Rachel and Jennifer Aniston for Monica. Courtney actually turned down playing Rachel, saying she connected more with Monica and wanted to read for her instead. And thankfully, Jen was actually keen to play Rachel. There can be no doubt that the right call was made in the end.