Ed O’Neill

  1. Ted Danson, Cheers, TV, 1982-1993.      NBC wanted an athletic type running the bar.   Hence, William Devane and Fred Dryer testing for Sam Malone. Plus O’Neill, who later studied 15 years to win his Brazilian Ju-Jitsu black belt.
  2. Michael Gross, Family Ties, TV, 1982-1989.      As if losing America’s #1 bar-keep wasn’t bad enough (the show scored 273 episodes and countless Emmy awards), O’Neill also lost being Michael J Fox’s father that year for 171 Family Ties tales. By then, the family bug bit. To hell with #1 bar-tenders, O’Neill became the #1 working-class US dad in 260 chapters of Married With Children, 1987-1997 – followed by 156 Modern Family shows, 2009-2016.
  3. Fred Dalton Thompson, Flight of the Intruder, 1990.     Change of the (uncredited) Court Martial Captain in the John Milius that puzzled Chicago critic Roger Ebert. “Why is it smart at some times and dumb at others? Why are some scenes tough and others corny?” An attorney, lobbyist, columnist and actor, Thompson was the US Senator for Tennesee, 1994-2003, and a Presidential candidate in 2008.
  4. John Heard, Home Alone, 1990.  For the zero roles of Macauley Culkin’s forgetful parents (in a film written for and duly stolen by him), an astonishing 66 stars were considered – including 32 later seen for the hot lovers in Basic Instinct:Kim Basinger, Stockard Channing, Glenn Close, Kevin Costner, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Douglas, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Linda Hamilton, Daryl Hannah, Marilu Henner, Anjelica Huston, Helen Hunt, Holly Hunter, Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange, Christopher Lloyd, Jack Nicholson, Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Annie Potts, Kelly Preston, Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan, Martin Sheen, Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, John Travolta.   Other potential Pops were Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi, Chevy Chase, Jeff Daniels, Tony Danza, John Goodman, Charles Grodin, Tom Hanks, Robert Hays, Steve Martin, Rick Moranis, Bill Murray, Ed O’Neill, John Ritter, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Skerritt, Robin Williams… and the inevitable unknowns: Broadway’s Mark Linn-Baker, Canadian musicians-comics  Alan Thicke (“the affordable William Shatner”) and Dave Thomas.
  5. James Caan, Misery, 1990.
    “Leading men hate to be passive; hate to be eunuchised by their female co-stars.  Top scenarist William Goldman on why 22 actors avoided the prospect of being beaten up and beaten to an Oscar by  Kathy Bates as the mad fan of writer Paul Sheldon. Warren Beatty prevaricated but never actually said no (nor yes).  Richard Dreyfuss regretted disappointing director Rob Reiner again after refusing When Harry Met Sally, 1988 (they had earlier made a classic of   King’s novella, The Body, as Stand By Me, 1985).   William Hurt refused – twice. Jack Nicholson didn’t want another King guy so soon after The Shining.  While Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino being up  for the same role was nothing new  – but Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman was  Also fleeing the  32nd of Stephen King’s staggering 313 screen credits were Tim Allen, Jeff Daniels, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, close pals Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman, Ed Harris, John Heard, Robert Klein, Bill Murray, Ed O’Neill, John Ritter, Denzel Washington, Robin Williams and Bruce Willis… who went on to be Sheldon in Goldman’s  2015 Broadway version.

  6. Danny Glover, Flight  of the Intruder, 1991,       And now  that paterfamilias  got in  the way of Ed being accepted by producers – and public  – in other roles. “That ain’t Commander Dooke Camparelli, that’s Al Bundy…!”
  7. John Goodman, The Borrowers, 1996.    The delicious villain, Ocious P Potter, was not in the 1952 Marty Norton book that Peter Sellers tried to film in 1964.  So he would have been Pod, the four-inch-high patriarch of the tiny Clock family living  beneath the floorboards of a house owned by ”human beans”.  Three versions had already been hits when this Anglo–American version was launched. The battle for Ocious was, therefore, UK v US…   Martin Clunes, Bob Hoskins, Griff Rhys Jones, Alan Rickman v Tim Allen, Chevy Chase, Danny DeVito, Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Lloyd, Steve Martin,, Bill Murray,  Ed O’Neill, Robin Williams.  The fact that Pesci was also suggested signaled a ton of Home Alone physical attacks on poor Goodman, which out off both Steven Spielberg and his apprentice, Robert Zemeckis, from directing.  They weren’t required!  Nor were Rowan Atkinson and comic-turned-director Mel Smith – off busily making their own Bean movie for the same UK/US companies.
  8. Ian McShane, Deadwood, TV, 2004-2006.     The hard-living-loving-killing-swearing saloon owner, Al Swearengen, was written for Ed O’Neill but HBO  feared the public would not take to the necessary 100% switch from his family-soap pop  in 263 episodes of Married With Children, 1986-1997.  HB0 was right. O’’Neill’s image had already ruined his Joe Friday in the awfulDragnet re-hash – dead after a solitary season, 2003-2004.  A rare casting error by producer Dick Wolf.
  9. Adam Godley, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, 2004.       A UK stage star beat all the famous TV dads that Tim Burton was seeing for his Mr Teavee. Ed was Al Bundy andf Married With Children, 1987-1997, and (after a disastrous stay in a revamped Dragnet) Jay Pritchett, head of the Modern Family, 2009-2013.   Also in the mix: Tim Allen, James Belushi, Dan Castellaneta (aka Homer Simpson), Ray Romano, Bob Saget and Kurtwood Smith. Godley was a huge 1998 hit as Kenneth Williams in London’s behind-the-Carry-On-scenes play, Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle, and Dick.
  10. Hugh Jackman, Rise of the Guardians, 2011.   Possible voices for the Easter Bunny ranged from those of Ed O’Neill, at 65, to Eddie Redmayne at 29..!  Bill Hader, Michael Keaton and Daniel Stern were also heard before Jackman won his second DreamWorks toon… this time retaining his strine.  Other guardians included Easter Bunny, Jack Frost, Tooth Fairy and a Santa Claus complete with tatts and a Russian accent!
  11. JK Simmons, Lightyears, TV, 2021.   O;Neill  was O’ut…  and replaced by  JKS, the Whiplash Oscar winner – joining another Oscared actor, Sissy  Spacek, as his wife.  Years ago, they found a chamber in their back yard led them to a deserted planet.  And they kept the secret until…   Also for Amazon Prime that year, JKS made The Tomorrow War with Chris Pratt and  and voiced  Omni-Man (a superhero with a moustache!) in inInvincible from the  Skybound/Image comics.


 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  11