Jake Gyllenhaal was almost cast in Ben Stiller’s ‘Zoolander’


It’s been 20 years, and Hansel is still “so hot right now.”

But it was almost Jake Gyllenhaal, not Owen Wilson, as the hippy-dippy male model in “Zoolander.”

Gyllenhaal, 40, was in the running to play “Male Model of the Year” Hansel in the 2001 movie alongside director and star Ben Stiller, who revealed the bombshell in an interview with Esquire.

In honor of the film’s 20th anniversary, stars Stiller, Christine Taylor and Milla Jovovich looked back on making the hilarious satirical flick about the fashion industry and revealed that Gyllenhaal was in the running for Hansel at one point when the “Wedding Crashers” star almost missed out due to other commitments.

Stiller said that Wilson was always his first choice for Hansel, but when the “Loki” star seemed to have some scheduling conflicts, the filmmakers were forced to hold auditions and look elsewhere.

ben stiller
Ben Stiller starred as dumb fashion model Derek Zoolander in the 2001 comedy.

“The only one that I remember clearly was a young Jake Gyllenhaal doing this wide-eyed version of Hansel that was really funny,” Stiller said.

And that wasn’t the only big reveal from Stiller, who said Will Ferrell wasn’t the first choice to play evil fashion mogul Mugatu, either.

Owen Wilson in the sequel to "Zoolander."
Owen Wilson in the sequel to “Zoolander.”
©Paramount/Courtesy Everett

“Andy Dick was supposed to play [the villain] Mugatu,” added the “Along Came Polly” actor, noting that Dick had a conflict with shooting a sitcom. “Now it’s impossible for me to picture anybody but Will [Ferrell] doing it.”

The flick opened just two weeks after 9/11 and originally received less-than-positive reviews. But alas, it has stayed a cult classic two decades on and a sequel was released in 2016.

Milla Jovovich, Ben Stiller and Will Ferrell in the original film.
Milla Jovovich, Ben Stiller and Will Ferrell in the original film.
©Paramount/Courtesy Everett

“It was such a hard time with comedy,” said Taylor. “Laughing might be a remedy in the moment, but the truth of the matter is, people weren’t ready.”

“It was a weird time,” Stiller added.

The cast also revealed how they avoided receiving an R rating and settled for a PG-13 grade instead. “Ben went to the ratings board to say, ‘Listen, Would I ever put my wife in anything that would be questionable?’” Taylor explained. “The Wedding Singer” star has been married to Stiller since 2000.

Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor in the 2001 film.
Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor in the 2001 film.
©Paramount/Courtesy Everett

She continued, “Because he got to use that as part of his argument, coupled with keeping it shorter and lessening the amount of characters that made it into that scene, [that] had to do with how it ended up getting rated [PG-13].”


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