Southland Tales Almost Cast Rick Moranis In The John Larroquette Role

In the infamous 2006 film Southland Tales, director Richard Kelly considered casting comedian Rick Moranis in the role played by John Larroquette.

During the early days of development on Southland Tales, director Richard Kelly originally considered casting Rick Moranis in the role of Vaughn Smallhouse. Yet, change-ups in pre-production inevitably happen. By the time Southland Tales was released in 2006, John Larroquette had been cast to play the film’s political advisor.

A few years after Kelly’s cult classic Donnie Darko, the director and screenwriter decided to burrow into current politics with his next film. A satiric science fiction thriller, Southland Tales anchored its story in Los Angeles while also drawing in themes that commented on the military-industrial complex. In the process of writing the film, Kelly sought to create a genre-bending work that explored the ways in which celebrity culture inevitably bled into politics. To effectively deliver on its narrative aims, Kelly selected a star-powered team. Celebrity heavyweights like Dwayne Johnson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Mandy Moore, and Larroquette rounded out the ensemble cast. The film turned out to be too narratively ambitious for critics, though, as it had a notoriously poor debut at the Cannes Film Festival.

Recently, while Kelly applauded Larroquette for his character portrayal of Smallhouse, he also shared the initial conversations surrounding who should take the role. As reported by CinemaBlend, Kelly first reached out to Moranis to talk about the film. However, the timing of the movie seemed to conflict with Moranis’s personal desire to step away from the limelight. As Kelly explained, “I love Rick Moranis, and I’m so excited that he’s kind of returning to acting in a bigger way now. But I think he was sort of, at the moment, kind of retired and not really interested in acting.”

By the early 2000s, Moranis was a recognizable face in many households for his roles in comedic hits like Ghostbusters, Spaceballs, and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Nevertheless, by the time Kelly spoke to him, the actor had already chosen to become a stay-at-home dad to his two children. As a result, in the process of finding the film’s Smallhouse, Kelly turned to TV powerhouse Larroquette. Renowned for his work on network television, Larroquette had received four Primetime Emmy Awards for his acting on Night Court, which ran from 1984-1992. In Southland Tales, Larroquette embraced the satirical character who advised the film’s fictional California senator.

The evolution of a cast, which usually involves many working parts, is a common occurrence in Hollywood. At the same time, it is fascinating to consider what could have been in a film, especially when it comes to well-known movie characters. Different actors bring their own nuances and traits to a role. Moranis’s Smallhouse might very well have significantly differed from Larroquette’s Smallhouse. Of course, in the end, the cast came together for Kelly’s Southland Tales, which offered an unexpected, eccentric exploration of the entertainment industry and modern government intrigue.

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