Everybody Knows New Names: Recasting Cheers


Quite a few years ago (long enough that this movie was relevant), my friend Natalie and I put together our perfect Twilight cast while working out. The “real cast” had just been announced and we had some ideas for changes…mainly because some of the cast were people (young people?) we’d never heard of.

Recasting movies and tv shows has become a favorite game of mine since then, and I’m always up for a good discussion about who could perfectly play (or resurrect) a role.

Today’s post is dedicated to recasting Cheers for a modern audience. I’ve set a few rules for myself:

  1. In this recasting world, I can pick a Dream Team. I don’t have to worry about one actor being “too big” for TV, or not likely to work with another actor, or anything like that.  This is Cheers; everyone knows your name.
  2. All of the actors must be old enough in my memory to drink (real age minus five years for Hollywood). So sorry not sorry, Selena Gomez will not be sidling up to this bar.
  3. I’m not looking for recasting body types, but instead actors who can embody characteristics of the originals.

First, let’s take a look at the original cast:

Sam Malone: Ted Danson*

Diane: Shelley Long

Rebecca: Kirstie Alley

Woody: Woody Harrelson

Norm: George Wendt

Cliff: John Ratzenberger

Carla: Rhea Perlman

Frasier: Kelsey Grammer

Coach: Nicholas Colasanto

Lillith: Bebe Neuwirth

Eddie: Jay Thomas

Now, assuming that this show would air on CBS on…Tuesday night at 9pm?…sans laugh track (although I think the original had a laugh track), here are my ideas for the new cast:

Sam Malone: Josh Duhamel

Don’t hate – think about it for a second. Duhamel is dashing, capable if a little harried, coveys strength and masculinity. He might actually be the love child of Sam and Rebecca.

Diane: Rebecca Romign

She’s really great on TV. Is she on a show right now? Let’s get her back, and in a role where she can portray strong business sense without having to have first been a man.

Rebecca: Thandie Newton

While being a tiny little thing, Thandie Newton oozes power and femininity, the two traits (to me, at least) that characterize Rebecca. I’d love to see her do some physical comedy, too; she was excellent in Run, Fatboy, Run.

Woody: Zac Efron

While I have misgivings about putting post-rehab Zac in a show about a bar, he could be really great here. I’d like to see how he is on a standard network show, too.

Norm: Seth Rogen

I’m willing to give on this one; I’m not necessarily a Seth Rogen fan. However, if any actor could be convincing as a bar regular, I think it’s Rogen. He’d need a strong script, but I think he could work. Maybe he doesn’t have to be in every episode. (I’m sad thinking about how, looking at my proposed lineup, Seth Rogen is probably the most commercially successful of these actors right now. Nothing specifically against Seth Rogen, but…let’s put Rob Riggle in a Walter-Mitty-esque movie, STAT.**)

Cliff: Rob Riggle

Cliff Craven as you’ve never seen him before***. I’m totally sold on Riggle as Cliff (I mean, alliteration) and that’s why I’m not as sold on Seth Rogen as Norm. I’m not sure they’re a good pair. I can’t think of who to better pair him with, though, unless I were to suddenly skew the show “old.” Could this version of Cliff wear the short blue USPS shorts? Ha!

Carla: Kristin Wiig

Yeah? YEAH?!? Suspend your notion that Carla has to be small (I’m not advocating for a line-for-line recreation of the original scripts, after all) and think about how perfect she would be. I would listen to relationship woes and pet peeves from Wiig any day.

Frasier: Jude Law

Perfect, right?!?! RIGHT?!?!

Side note, I follow the  Law of Law: I tend to find ways to put Jude Law into every dream cast situation, even though he’s not necessarily one of my favorite actors. How can someone with such a quickly receding hairline remain so devilishly handsome?

Lillith: Susan May Pratt

Susan May Pratt is basically the patron saint of uptight type-A girls, right? I haven’t seen her play any other part. Plus, she looks a LOT like Bebe Neuwirth, and it’s hard to imagine anyone else in this role.

Eddie:  Ben Falcone

Okay, so believability as an ice hockey player might be a stretch for Falcone. BUT being a former ice hockey player who’s now in the ice-capades as a penguin and is killed by a Zamboni? Not a stretch. Plus, Falcone and Wiig, FTW.

Coach: John Ratzenberger

There has to be a Coach. Ratzenberger has to get a nod. This allows for both things, while freeing JRatz up after one season to get back to Pixar. Win-win.

new Cheers

I’d be willing to allow NBC to run with this, if only to set up the cross over episode with Community when the team needs an after-class drink. The bottle episode to end all bottle episodes.

What do you think? Am I ruining Cheers? Do you have any suggestions for casting ? (PLEASE give me some better ideas for Norm; PS I’ve already thought about Vince Vaughn and I think he’d overshadow everyone else with his demeanor and literal physical size. Give me more options.) Crossover episodes?

*Let’s all think about Ted Danson for a second.  Think about Cheers. Then think about Two Men and a Baby. THEN think about Two Men and a Little Lady. Did you ever think he’d be where he is now? ARTHUR FROBISHER, y’all .
**I’m pretending that The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is going to be more like the first preview I saw than the second. Pretend with me. (::closes eyes:: pretend with me)

3 thoughts on “Everybody Knows New Names: Recasting Cheers

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