Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled What about Seinfelds dad?!: 11 (well, 12) slightly less jarringly recast roles

We realize that Inventories are never complete, and we rely on commentators to let us (and everybody else) know what we missed. Since there were so many solid suggestions for "The Darrin Effect" this week, we figured we'd offer a sequel. Some things that are still off the table: soap operas (because crazy recasting is just par for the course) and what's referred to as SORAS (soap opera rapid aging syndrome), in which a character rapidly ages from one season to the next (like Chrissy Seaver on Growing Pains).


1. The two Morty Seinfelds (and Frank Costanzas) on Seinfeld

Veteran television actor Philip Bruns played Jerry Seinfeld's father, Morty, when the character briefly debuted in Seinfeld's second episode, "The Stakeout." The story goes that series co-creator Larry David wanted someone more cantankerous for the part, and Bruns was too relaxed. When Morty returned for "The Pony Remark" in season two, he had been replaced by another television veteran, Barney Martin, who held the role until the show went off the air in 1998. Less remembered is John Randolph, who appeared as George Costanza's father, Frank, in one episode of season four. Although viewers can at least see Philip Bruns as Jerry's dad in reruns, John Randolph's scenes as Frank Costanza were re-shot with Jerry Stiller for syndication.


2. The three Jack Ryans in The Hunt For Red October, Patriot Games/Clear And Present Danger, and The Sum Of All Fears

Jack Ryan, frequent protagonist and center of the "Ryanverse" created by Tom Clancy's novels, has had three different faces in film adaptations. It began in 1990 with The Hunt For Red October, where Alec Baldwin came closest to accurately portraying Ryan's youthful vigor. When filming for the next Clancy adaptation, Patriot Games, was delayed from 1991 to 1992, Baldwin opted out because it conflicted with his plans to appear on Broadway. The producers then approached Harrison Ford, who had turned down Red October, supposedly because the film wasn't focused on Ryan's character enough. Even though Ford was a spry 49 when he made Patriot Games, Clancy considered him too old to play Ryan, whom Clancy imagined to be in his early 30s. (Clancy later disowned the film.) Ford continued the role in 1994's Clear And Present Danger, but turned it down for 2002's The Sum Of All Fears. In came Ben Affleck, who's 30 years younger than Ford, forcing some major deviations from the book. Instead of being married with children and Deputy Director of the CIA, Affleck's Ryan was an unmarried low-level intelligence worker. Don't expect a repeat performance from Affleck, though. The film helped nix any future he might have had as an action star, and when word came out in March of this year that Sam Raimi was in negotiations to do another Jack Ryan film with a younger lead, Ryan Gosling's name was mentioned, not Affleck's. But Ford mentioned in an interview that he'd be interested in revisiting the character.

3. The two Harriet Winslows on Family Matters

It's tough to describe JoMarie Payton-France's absence from Family Matters as jarring, because nobody was really watching Family Matters by the time she was replaced by Judyann Elder. Urkel was still the focus of the show, the sassy Grandma was gone, and mysterious daughter Judy went up the stairs years earlier and never came back. (The actress who played her went on to porn and Celebrity Rehab.) But Payton, who originated the Harriet character on Perfect Strangers, went on to bit parts in other series, taking her husky voice with her.

4. The two Angie Jordans on 30 Rock

Again, this role change was hardly jarring: In the character's first appearance, Tracy Jordan's wife was played—very briefly—by Sharon Wilkins. In all subsequent episodes, she was portrayed by the smiley Sherri Shepherd, who apparently doesn't mind portraying someone who likes to "play rape" with her husband. Good for her!

5. The two Donnas in Twin Peaks and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

David Lynch couldn't round up the whole cast for Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me,†his big-screen sequel/prequel to the cult-hit TV show Twin Peaks, and he opted to cut characters like Sherilyn Fenn's Audrey instead of recasting them. (Other favorites appeared in scenes that didn't make the final cut, leaving the town of Twin Peaks weirdly underpopulated.) But Lara Flynn Boyle's decision to bail left Lynch with a part he couldn't cut, so he recast her with future Cutting Edge†star Moira Kelly. The film is a confused mess, and Kelly, possibly the least expressive actress of her generation, only makes it messier and more confused.


6. The two young John Connors in Terminator 2 and Terminator 3

Edward Furlong was an unknown when he palled around with Arnold Schwarzenegger's cuddlier killer-from-the-future in Terminator 2: Judgment Day in 1991. He spent the rest of the decade battling personal demons while still taking high-profile roles in films like Pecker†and Detroit Rock City. He was the right age to play an older version of Connor in Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines, and the character's struggle with drugs seemed to dovetail with Furlong's own experience. Still, Nick Stahl got the part. Not confused enough? A third actor, Thomas Dekker, plays Connor on the TV show Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,†while no less than Christian Bale has signed on for the part in the McG-directed fourth film, Terminator Salvation, out next year.


7. The three Gordons on Sesame Street

Childhood memories are easily taintable, so hang on. Gordon wasn't always Gordon. The African-American leader of Sesame Street—especially in its first couple of years—was played by Matt Robinson, who was inexplicably replaced by moustacheless Hal Miller, who looked nothing like Robinson. Miller stayed in the role for a couple of years, until Roscoe Orman took it over in 1974. He holds it to this day.

8. The two Deborah Ciccerones on The Sopranos

This one's more of a tease than a jarring change, because only a certain segment of Sopranos watchers got to see Fairuza Balk play the FBI agent who flips Adriana. According to Balk, the character was only written as a one-off, and when the producers decided to make it bigger, Balk wasn't available. Her scene was re-shot with Lola Glaudini, who would continue in the role.


9. The two Jennifer Parkers in Back To The Future and its sequels

Claudia Wells debuted the character of Jennifer Parker, Marty McFly's girlfriend, in the original Back To The Future, but dropped out of the sequel released four years later. (Wells wouldn't make another film for more than a decade.) Elisabeth Shue took on the role, which required a re-shoot of the ending of the first film, which became the first scene of Back To The Future II. Shue would reprise the role for Back To The Future III in 1990.

10. The two Gladys Kravitzes from Bewitched

Sure, the two Darrins get all the recognition—probably because Darrin was, y'know, Samantha's husband—but nosy neighbor Gladys Kravitz was replaced after two seasons because the actress who played her, Alice Pearce, died of cancer. Sandra Gould took over the role for the remainder of the series, but never proved to anyone that Samantha was a witch.

11. The two John-Boys on The Waltons

At the end of The Waltons' fifth season, Richard Thomas left the show, and with him went John-Boy, the series' most popular character. At the start of the eighth season, The Waltons' producers brought John-Boy back in an episode that showed him recuperating in a hospital after having his plane shot down in World War II. Only instead of the mole-faced John-Boy audiences knew and loved, the character was played by Robert Wightman. They do say that war changes a man…


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