Zoolander is so hot right now. Zoolander. And why is that? Released roughly two weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the film premiered just one day before Rudy Giuliani told the SNL audience that “it’s ok to laugh” again. Had Zoolander come out the following week? Well, that’s a real Sliding Doors situation, right there.
Despite its dismal reviews and lackluster box office, Zoolander has endured. Cult classic doesn’t even do it justice. The film’s laundry list of iconic scenes, poses, and catchphrases made it a popular choice among teens in the pre-meme eras when, to paraphrase a tweet, “We all just sat around quoting Anchorman at each other.”
In a new retrospective for Esquire, writer Ilana Kaplan spoke to the stars and creators of the iconic idiot model, giving us a look at a different world via some lost plotlines, untold stories, and original castings. The near-misses this film will leave you with a lot of things to ponder.
It’s nearly impossible to picture any of these roles in the hands of other actors, now, but many had other names attached at one point. Wilson was always Stiller’s first choice for who he wanted to play Hansel, but when it looked like he wouldn’t be available to shoot, they were forced to hold auditions. “The only one that I remember clearly was a young Jake Gyllenhaal doing this wide-eyed version of Hansel that was really funny,” recalls Stiller. He adds another revelation: “Andy Dick was supposed to play Mugatu,” but the comedian wasn’t available because he was working on a sitcom. “Now it’s impossible for me to picture anybody but Will doing it,” says Stiller.
Andy Dick as Mugatu? Jake Gyllenhaal as Hansel? And we haven’t even told you about the Island Of Doctor Moreau situation that appeared in the original script. Zoolander fans will find a few such gems in this piece, including the film’s original ending, which would have spared us all Zoolander 2.