When it comes to casting movies and television shows, the original line-up usually differs from what actually goes out to the masses. Brooklyn’s leading role initially went to Rooney Mara before Ireland’s Saoirse Ronan won the part. Even Leonardo DiCaprio wasn’t a sure thing for Titanic. Clueless actor Jeremy Sisto has spoken about how he eventually lost the part to the actor. Now, Hollywood insiders are revealing that one of the most complex male television leads, that of Nicholas Brody in Homeland, wasn’t originally intended for English actor Damien Lewis.
Lewis’ made his US debut in the show as the US Marine who returns to the States after eight years as a hostage in the Middle East and rouses suspicions in Claire Danes’ CIA agent. From the pilot, his acting and flawless American accent was commended. And yet, he was very nearly not cast.
Homeland’s showrunner Alex Gansa told The New Yorker that the original first choice for the role was Patrick Wilson, who is now heading up the second season of Fargo and was the very dashing love interest in Morning Glory. Wilson told the network no, who then moved on to Ryan Phillippe. Yes, your teenage crush Sebastian Valmont was very nearly cast in Homeland. Can you imagine? What with all that Cruel Intentions mood games experience we’d have been questioning his every motive 200% more.
Ganso wasn’t on the same page as network executives chasing Phillippe and wanted to cast the then-unknown English actor. He said, “I kept talking about Damian until I got a call from the head of the studio saying, “Look, Alex, please do not bring up Damian’s name again.’” It wasn’t until two weeks before principal photography on Homeland started and Gansa forced producers to watch Lewis in a movie called Keane, that television history was made.
Still, we’re can’t help but imagine Phillippe in the part. Would his curly blonde hair have fit in? One thing we do know, the show’s creators could have easily shoehorned in a Brody-takes-an-escalator scene.
Via New Yorker