The Lost Roles of 2011

I began writing the column “Lost Roles” for Splitsider in February, taking a different actor, actress, filmmaker, movie, or TV show each week and examining all of the that entity’s alternate casting possibilities that almost came to be. Sure, it’s fun to imagine what it would have been like if Tim Burton went through with his whim to cast Bill Murray as Batman or if Danny DeVito had played George Costanza or if Marc Maron had been given the Weekend Update anchor job that Lorne Michaels considered him for, but looking at the “lost roles” of various performers also offers a deeper insight into who these comedians are and who they aim to be. By studying an actress or actor’s passion projects that never materialized, the roles he or she wanted but didn’t get, and the parts he or she flat-out turned down, we’re able to gain a better understanding of how this person crafts his or her body of work and how his or her comedic persona changes from role to role. Below is a collection of all the “Lost Roles” pieces I’ve written this year, covering everyone from Tom Hanks to Judd Apatow.

SNL Alums:
Dan Aykroyd (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Gangs of New York, Anchorman)
John Belushi (Arthur, Ghostbusters, Animal House 2)
Chevy Chase (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Forrest Gump, American Beauty)
Janeane Garofalo (Friends, Fight Club, Shrek)
Eddie Murphy (Ghostbusters, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Richard Pryor biopic)
Bill Murray (Star Wars, Batman, Toy Story)
Mike Myers (Scooby-Doo, The Pink Panther, Coffee Talk: The Movie)
Sarah Silverman (Writing for Mr. Show, Clerks II, numerous pilots)
Ben Stiller (Ghostbusters III, Blades of Glory, We Bought a Zoo)

Stand-Ups:
Tim Allen (What Women Want, The Cat in the Hat, Wild Hogs 2)
Patton Oswalt (Hitch, Alvin and the Chipmunks, A Serious Man)
Richard Pryor (Blazing Saddles, 48 Hrs., Malcolm X)
Chris Tucker (Any Given Sunday, The Pink Panther, Django Unchained)
Robin Williams (The Shining, Harry Potter, every other Batman movie)

Actors:
Sacha Baron Cohen (Dinner for Schmucks, Men in Black III, The Trial of the Chicago 7)
John Candy (Ghostbusters, The Flintstones, Pocahontas)
Steve Carell (Talladega Nights, Party Down, The Dark Knight)
Jim Carrey (SNL, Ferris Bueller, Meet the Parents)
Danny DeVito (Uncle Buck, Seinfeld, Super Mario Bros.)
Tom Hanks (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, When Harry Met Sally, Groundhog Day)
Paul Rudd (Funny People, Party Down, Horrible Bosses)
Owen Wilson (There’s Something About Mary, Heat Vision and Jack, Ocean’s Eleven)

Filmmakers:
Woody Allen (Oh, God!, What About Bob?, Stuck on You)
Judd Apatow (Sick in the Head, Untitled Will Ferrell-Jack Black Motorcycle Cop Project, Jonah Hill’s The Middle Child)
Albert Brooks (Big, Midnight Run, Pretty Woman)
Bob Odenkirk and David Cross (The Mr. Show Movie, David’s Situation, Next!)

Movies:
Anchorman (John C. Reilly, Alec Baldwin, Dan Aykroyd)
Animal House (Meat Loaf, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray)
Dumb & Dumber (Nicolas Cage, Rob Lowe, Steve Martin)
Ghostbusters (Paul Reubens, Sandra Bernhard, John Candy)
Three Amigos (Bill Murray, John Belushi, Sam Kinison)
Tropic Thunder (Keanu Reeves, Owen Wilson, Mos Def)
The Lost Comedy Sequels (Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian, Mrs. Doubtfire 2, Seriously Dude, Where’s My Car?)
The Lost SNL Movies (Hans & Franz, Coffee Talk, The Ambiguously Gay Duo)
The Unproduced Fletch Reboot (Jason Lee, Zach Braff, Dave Chappelle)

TV:
Arrested Development (Andy Kindler, Rainn Wilson, Andy Dick)
Friends (Janeane Garofalo, Jon Favreau, Jon Cryer)
Married… with Children (Sam Kinison, Roseanne Barr, Michael Richards)
NewsRadio (Ray Romano, Sarah Silverman, Rob Schneider)
The Office (Paul Giamatti, Bob Odenkirk, Matt Walsh)
Seinfeld (Danny DeVito, Rosie O’Donnell, Steve Buscemi)
Late Night Talk Show Hosts (Leno in Howard the Duck, Letterman in Airplane!, Jon Stewart in Chasing Amy)
TV Pilots That Never Made it to Series (Lookwell, Heat Vision and Jack, The Norm Macdonald Reality Show)
The Lost Weekend Update Anchors (Al Franken, Marc Maron, Kristen Wiig)

Bradford Evans is a writer living in Los Angeles.

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