Eugene Levy Almost Landed a Role on ‘The West Wing’ — Here’s Why He Got Passed Over

by Jeremy Spirogis
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Just think about Emmy Award-winner Eugene Levy on Aaron Sorkin’s political drama, The West Wing, enjoying Toby Ziegler, the fictional White House Communications Director. 

It is likely to be difficult to image one other actor enjoying Toby apart from Richard Schiff, who gained an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in 2000 for his efficiency, nevertheless it virtually occurred. Ahead, discover out why Aaron Sorkin, creator of The West Wing, got here this shut to choosing Levy to play Toby and why Schiff in the end landed the half. 

Known for its fast-talking characters and trademark walk-and-talk scenes, Sorkin’s The West Wing chronicled the every day lives of White House senior employees as they suggested fictional U.S. President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet (Martin Sheen) and ran the workplace of the president. 

The ensemble solid included John Spencer (Leo McGarry), Bradley Whitford (Josh Lyman), Allison Janney (C.J. Cregg), Richard Schiff (Toby Ziegler), Dulé Hill (Charlie Young), Rob Lowe (Sam Seaborn), Janel Moloney (Donnatella “Donna” Moss) and, after all, Sheen.

Cast of 'The West Wing' in Season 3
Cast of ‘The West Wing’ in Season 3 | James Sorensen/NBCU Photo Bank

The sequence ran for seven seasons on NBC from Sept. 1999 to May 2006 and garnered a staggering 95 Emmy nominations and 26 wins along with different accolades. 

Role of Toby got here all the way down to Schiff and Levy

The now-58-year-old creator and author of The West Wing, who additionally created different TV exhibits together with Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, HBO’s The Newsroom, and Sports Night mirrored on the casting course of throughout an interview with Empire.

“Boy did we luck out with the casting of the show. Not only was it an ensemble of wonderful actors but wonderful people,” he stated. “To use a basketball metaphor, it was a group that liked to pass as much as they liked to shoot.” 

Eugene Levy on Jan. 17, 2019, at SiriusXM StudiosEugene Levy on Jan. 17, 2019, at SiriusXM Studios
Eugene Levy on Jan. 17, 2019, at SiriusXM Studios | Santiago Felipe/Getty Images

After auditioning an unspecified variety of actors for the position of Toby, Sorkin narrowed it down to 2 folks; Schiff and Levy. “With Toby, it was a two-man race between Richard [Schiff] and Eugene Levy, who most of us know only as a world-class comedian.”

At that time in his profession, Levy had appeared within the short-lived TV sequence Hiller and Diller and various different roles, in keeping with his performing credit on IMDb.

Sorkin says Levy gave Schiff ‘a run for his money’

The creator of the present had a troublesome time selecting between the 2 actors however Schiff in the end gained out over Levy for having “something undeniable” about him. 

“He really gave Richard a run for his money but there was just something undeniable about Richard where you knew he was going to elevate not just the role but the show – you couldn’t look away,” Sorkin stated. 

Richard Schiff as Toby Ziegler on 'The West Wing'Richard Schiff as Toby Ziegler on 'The West Wing'
Richard Schiff as Toby Ziegler on ‘The West Wing’ | Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

As the saying goes, all the things occurs for a cause. After getting turned down for the position of Toby, Levy landed a spot within the cult traditional American Pie. The raunchy teen comedy premiered in July 1999, a bit of greater than two months earlier than The West Wing made its TV debut. Today, Levy is flexing his comedy muscular tissues in Schitt’s Creek, the critically acclaimed and award-winning sequence he created along with his son Dan Levy. The two presently star within the present’s sixth and closing season.

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