We spoke to comedy legend Eugene Levy recently and, in the first of a new series for Dial M for Movies, here is an outtake from the interview that didn't quite make the finished article. I had heard a rumour that Levy, who has made his name in comedy roles such as Jim's dad in the American pie series, and numerous brilliant turns in films like Best in Show and A Mighty Wind, was very close to playing the iconic role of Toby Ziegler in TVs The West Wing, which of course actually went to the peerless Richard Schiff.
[Dial M for movies] We would have loved to have seen you as Toby Ziegler in the West Wing, is there any truth in the rumours you auditioned for it?
[Eugene Levy] Well there was just two of us in the room in the final audition and ultimately I think they didn’t lose any sleep over the choice because I think he is really interesting and a great actor. My take was completely different, I remember my first audition. I remember that I was getting laughs and although, I had that as part of my character, I was thinking this is not going to work- this isn’t a comedy!
Then they talked to me after, as I was walking out and they were going, ‘that’s fantastic we want you to come back.’ I came back and that was it. I think there was two ways to go; one was this way and the other was a lighter approach. The other character, not the president [Josh Lyman, played by Bradley Whitford] had a lighter approach to this character and, my own thing is maybe they thought Bradley and Richard Schiff [who played the part for the show’s entire seven year run] fit in better. Whatever, he got the part.
[Dial M] Well at least we didn’t lose you from comedy as a result.
[EL] You know what, to be honest, if I had got that I wouldn’t be here today because I wouldn’t have been able to do American Pie.