The Friends Star Who Actually Turned Down Will Smith's Men In Black Role

We hear stories all the time about movie roles being offered to one actor before another picks them up and takes them to superstardom. However, this one even has us scratching our heads. It's not the fact that one of the roles in Men in Black was originally offered to somebody else. That part is far from surprising. What's shocking is the idea that almost starred opposite Tommy Lee Jones, was Friends star David Schwimmer.

This revelation came from David Schwimmer himself on the Hollywood Reporter's Awards Chatter podcast. Schwimmer is back in the limelight after several years away thanks to his role as Robert Shapiro in The People vs. O.J. Simpson. It's his first major role since his hit series Friends wrapped up in 2004. Thanks to Friends, Schwimmer and all of his co-stars were in somewhat high demand, due to starring in the most popular show on television. This popularity apparently led to him being offered the role of Agent J in Men in Black, a role he refused in order to star and direct the TV movie Since You've Been Gone. While this is usually the part where the actor who gave up the big role laments "the one that got away," that's not the case here at all. Schwimmer says "It wasn't even like a choice."

Men in Black

Coming from most actors, we're not sure we'd buy it, but from David Schwimmer, we tend to believe that Men in Black was probably never a major consideration. While Men in Black came at the end of Will Smith's successful TV run, for Schwimmer it was right in the middle of his. If he was offered one big summer movie, he surely could have ended up doing others. Schwimmer has also kept a much lower profile than the rest of his former co-stars since Friends wrapped up. Being in another successful series or a big movie was clearly not at the top of his priority list.

Having said all that...David Schwimmer? Really? Part of the difficulty in seeing anybody else in the role of Agent J is certainly because, after seeing Will Smith in the movie, and two sequels, it would be difficult to see anybody else in the part. But part of the reason Will Smith seemed so right is that Agent J was cool and cocky, just like most other roles we had already seen the actor play. Those are not words you would use to describe David Schwimmer characters. We have to wonder if the original concept for the role was something very different. Either that or somebody offered the role to Schwimmer thinking he'd take it as a way to avoid future typecasting.

What do you think of the idea of David Schwimmer in Men in Black? Was this the most brilliant casting decision ever that we'll never get to see? Let us know in the comments.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.