I’ve always been fascinated by the process of casting a television show, especially auditions. They’re so weird. So much of a show’s success rides on the ability of three or four people to pick the perfect person for the part out of dozens and dozens of hopefuls who are nervously reciting lines they probably memorized on the way over there. And then you also hear about now-famous actors auditioning for memorable roles before their big break, or high-profile actors turning down roles in shows that became hits (for example, Dominic West and Game of Thrones). I could read stories about that kind of thing all day — the what ifs, the close calls, etc.
So when Splitsider sat down with one of my favorite comedic actors, Rob Huebel (Human Giant, Children’s Hospital) as part of their Lost Roles series, I was in. I really recommend you read the whole thing, because it’s hilarious, but I have excerpted some of the more notable TV stuff below. If you, like me, are the type of person who enjoys the concept of Don Draper having a perma-boner, or naming a boat “Pussyhound,” I think you’ll really get a kick out of it.
On auditioning for the role of Don Draper on Mad Men:
So, I went in super prepared, and Don Draper gives this whole big monologue about what advertising really is, what it really is that they’re doing. And it was really great. It was a really cool speech, where you’re kind of like, “F-ck yeah, America! Yes! Let’s go buy some stuff.” And I got all dressed up and wore a suit and went in. And I did it, and I remember whoever it was auditioning me, I don’t think Matt Weiner was there, I don’t remember. Whoever was casting it was like “All right!” They were really into it, and they had me do it a couple times. And I left there, thinking that I really nailed it. I was really like, “Look out! Here comes Don Draper!” And then I never heard anything, never heard anything, never heard anything. And I thought, ‘Well, I’m sure that show got cancelled. Never even got off the ground. Bunch of dicks, they should have cast me. Serves them right.’ Then, of course, it came on with Jon Hamm, and I was like, “Oh! Oh yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah. He’s way better. Yeah, he should do that.” Because he’s so great in it. He really is that guy. I’m not sure that I could have — he’s so handsome. I think I would have been too intimidated to be married to January Jones. I don’t know that I could have pulled it off. I would have just be walking around with a boner the whole time when January Jones was onset. I wouldn’t have been able to do it.
Yeah, I don’t know if that show would have been as popular if Don Draper had a boner the entire time.
Yeah, it seems like it would have been less popular if every time they cut to Don Draper, he has a huge boner. He has a 1960s boner.
On working on Family Album, a 2011 Fox pilot that didn’t get picked up:
I did [a pilot] called Family Album with Mike O’Malley and Rachael Harris. Shawn Levy directed it. It was awesome. I got to play like the f-cked-up uncle. It was a family comedy, but I got to be the weirdo pervert uncle, and it was right up my alley. It was super funny. The show was really funny. It was one of those where everyone was saying it was gonna happen. It was like every stupid website Hollywood gossipy thing was like, “This one’s gonna go!” And it was set up at Fox, and I was just about ready to buy a new speedboat with the potential money I was gonna make and spraypaint “Pussyhound” on the side of the boat, but then it didn’t go and it was a bummer.
On turning down an audition for the role of Phil on Modern Family:
When I read the script for it, I just hated it. That’s what an idiot I am. It’s the most popular show in the country, and I love that show now. I did a little guest spot on it. Everyone on the show was so cool, and Ty Burrell is great in that part. So, it’s really that I’m just a f-ckin’ idiot because I read the script for it, and I didn’t even go into the audition because I just hated it so much. I told my agent I didn’t just wanna pass on it. I wanted him to call them and aggressively pass, which is not even a real thing, but I wanted him to call them and be like, “You know, Rob wanted me to call you specifically to tell you that he’s not coming in. That’s how much he doesn’t want to be a part of this project.” I hope he didn’t say that because that would ruin my whole career.
I’m so stupid because that show is so popular, but sometimes it’s hard, you read the script and you imagine the worst version if it. I just thought like, ‘They’re never gonna make this show. They will never make this show.’ So I didn’t even go in, and now it’s the biggest show in America, and I coulda had that speedboat that says “Pussyhound” on the side of it.
I don’t know about you guys, but I really hope he gets that boat some day.