Can you imagine anyone besides Jim Carrey playing Ace Ventura? Certain roles are only associated with specific actors, and the over-the-top pet detective absolutely goes hand-in-hand with the rubber-faced comedian. But Hollywood loves a good casting-couch story, where roles are offered to actors who pass, and it allows us to imagine how different the world might have been if one other person said yes. For example, Carrey’s In Living Color co-star David Alan Grier says he was offered the role, explaining:
I turned that movie down. They said ‘You and Rob Schneider, we’ll put you guys together.’ And I was like ‘No, thank you.’
David Alan Grier was reliving his past successes – and career near-misses – during an interview on the Howard Stern show. And Grier talked about attending the world premiere of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, which opened in 1994. The way Grier tells it, he was going to show support for Jim Carrey, his friend. The two were active on In Living Color, and Grier made sure to laugh as hard as he possibly could, so that his friend would feel supportive.
But David Alan Grier was convinced that the movie would be a total flop. A disaster! As he recalled to Howard Stern:
I just went, ‘He is insane! No one is going to buy this!’ … So I see Chris Rock in the lobby. And I go, 'Chris, who do you think…’ He goes, ‘David, no one will see this movie. Okay? Forget it.’ Now again, right over my head. I was wrong. I was wrong.
And it was then that David Alan Grier admits that the project was put to him as a potential starring vehicle, and he passed on it. This was part of a much larger conversation where Grier was telling Stern that he also auditioned for the role of George Costanza on Seinfeld, but didn’t take it seriously because he didn’t understand it, and didn’t think it would be funny. He denies the rumor that he was offered the role of George, but he says he did audition. That, too, is a role that, in our minds, belongs to Jason Alexander.
Here’s David Alan Grier opening up about significant roles that he missed over the course of his career.
At the time, David Alan Grier had his own movie rolling into theaters. He co-starred with Damon Wayans in the superhero spoof comedy Blankman, so he, too, was helping to bring In Living Color talent to the screen. Now I’m imagining a world where Carrey co-starred in Blankman, and Grier was Ace Ventura. Strange times.