LOS ANGLES — Ty Burrell owes Matt LeBlanc a huge debt of gratitude.
LeBlanc revealed he was offered the role of Phil Dunphy on “Modern Family,” which eventually went to Burrell and made him a star.
The “Friends” star told USA Today the offer came in 2009 after his series “Joey” was canceled.
“I remember reading it thinking, this is a really good script, [but] I’m not the guy for this,” LeBlanc said. “I’d be doing the project an injustice to take this.”
Burrell has won Emmy Awards for his performance as the affable Dunphy in 2011 and 2014.
LeBlanc isn’t the only actor to turn down parts that worked out really well for someone else.
Here are other examples:
Thomas Jane and “Mad Men”
It seems hard now to picture anyone but Jon Hamm as Don Draper.
But Hamm said during a “WTF” podcast in 2011 that AMC was initially interested in Jane for the part.
“I think they went to Thomas Jane for it and they were told that Thomas Jane doesn’t do television,” Ham revealed. “[He’s] now starring in ‘Hung,’ by the way.”
Jane’s “Hung” series on HBO didn’t last nearly as long as “Mad Men” did on AMC, but who’s keeping score?
Jack Nicholson and “The Godfather”
In 2004, the esteemed actor told Movieline he passed on a role in the iconic film based on the Mario Puzo novel about a mafia family.
“Back then I believed that Indians should play Indians and Italians should play Italians,” Nicholson said. “Mario Puzo had written such a great book that if you go back to it, you’ll see so much of what was special about the movie.”
The role of Michael Corleone instead went to Al Pacino, as it should have Nicholson said.
“There were a lot of actors who could have played Michael, myself included, but Al Pacino was Michael Corleone,” Nicholson said. “I can’t think of a better compliment to pay him.”
Christina Applegate and “Legally Blonde”
The “Married…with Children” star told “Entertainment Tonight” in 2015 that she completely regretted passing up the role of law student Elle Woods, which Reese Witherspoon played.
Applegate said she was afriad of playing another ditzy blonde.
“The script came along my way and it was right after I had just finished, “Married […with Children”], and it was a blonde who in that first script didn’t win it but ends up going to Yale, or Harvard, I don’t remember,” Applegate said. “I got scared of kind of repeating myself.”
“What a stupid move that was, right?” Applegate added.
The star said she does not begrudge Witherspoon the success the role brought her.
“Reese deserved that,” Applegate said. “She did a much better job than I ever could, and so that’s her life. That’s her path.”
Will Smith and “The Matrix”
Fans have had so much fun imagining Smith as Neo that they have made their own videos of what that film might look like.
While he’s gone on to star in other sci-fi hits like “Men In Black” and “Independence Day,” Smith told Wired he knows “The Matrix” was not for him.
“In the pitch, I just didn’t see it,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” star said. “I watched Keanu’s performance — and very rarely do I say this — but I would have messed it up.”
Dana Delany and “Sex and the City”
In 2009, Delany told the Los Angeles Times that she passed on playing Carrie Bradshaw when her friend and “Sex and the City” creator Darren Star offered her the role.
“I should clarify this one: I had done a movie called ‘Live Nude Girls’ with Kim Cattrall that was somewhat similar,” Delany said. “It was women sitting around talking about sex. Darren Star was a friend of mine and he had joined up with Candace Bushnell and came up with this idea and he asked if I’d be in it.”
Delany said she demurred on potentially being typecast.
“It was very much in the early stages, and I had just done ‘Nude Girls’ and ‘Exit to Eden’ and I just said to Darren, “I cannot do a show with ‘sex’ in the title,” Delany said. “People will lynch me if I do one more thing about sex.”
Instead, of course, the role went to Sarah Jessica Parker.