On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the comedy Zoolander, Ben Stiller unveils some casting possibilities that would have made the film very different.
Popular comedy Zoolander could have been very different, with Jake Gyllenhaal as Hansel and Andy Dick appearing in a much larger role. Directed by Ben Stiller, with the actor also appearing in the title role, the film debuted in September 2011. It focused on the superficial and narcissistic model Derek Zoolander, and is a satire of the fashion industry in his outfit. Although it received mixed reviews from critics, the comedy performed quite well at the box office. It brought in a total of $ 60 million worldwide against a budget of $ 28 million. However, what ultimately helped Zoolander staying in public consciousness (even leading to a sequel in 2016) was the fact that it built an even larger following over the years after its premiere.
Part of ZoolanderThe charm of comes down to the cast with which Stiller surrounded himself. Owen Wilson played Hansel, a competitor to Derek in the fashion world. Will Ferrell played villainous Jacobim Mugatu, while Christine Taylor and Milla Jovovich played memorable supporting roles as a reporter and bodyguard, respectively. The comedy also included several perfectly timed cameos, starring everyone from David Bowie to Gwen Stefani, and many more. Now, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Zoolander, Stiller revealed some dissatisfied casting choices that could have likely changed the film’s trajectory.
Talk with Squire, Stiller noted that the comedy could have starred Jake Gyllenhaal as Hansel. At one point, it seemed like Wilson’s schedule would keep him from playing in Zoolander and the character was open to auditions. “The only one I clearly remember was a young Jake Gyllenhaal doing this wide eyed version of Hansel that was really funnyStiller said. He also noted that comedian Andy Dick could have portrayed Mugatu but, due to scheduling conflicts, ultimately emerged as Olga’s more minor character.
It’s easy to see what may have drawn Gyllenhaal to Hansel, looking at his entire filmography. At the time that Zoolander came out, the actor’s breakout performance in Donnie Darko had not yet been presented in theaters. After that point, however, Gyllenhaal would make a name for himself moving from blockbuster mainstream projects to smaller films that rely on a distinctly unique character. Zoolander, in some ways, threads the needle in between. It’s a movie that ultimately turned out to appeal to a large audience, but has several weird characters at its center.
But still, even though Gyllenhaal would likely have given an excellent performance as Hansel, the fashion comedy was likely aided by Wilson and Ferrell’s engaged turns as respective characters. The best films, more often than not, boast of actors who are able to play each other and bring their own unforgettable twist to the material. With a different cast, it is possible that Zoolander would have fallen flat rather than relying on its initial audience like it did, to the point that it is now considered by many to be a cult classic.
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