The late actor Robin Williams rose to fame on ABC’s sitcom, Mork & Mindy, but it would be his starring roles in films like Aladdin (1992) and Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) that would cement him as an international treasure. While Mrs. Doubtfire came after Williams had secured himself as a blockbuster name, the comedy film could have been another actress’s big break.
Williams is one of the most beloved actors in the entertainment industry, with his death — caused by complications arising from his battle with Lewy Body Dementia — shocking the world in 2014. From his humble stand-up comedy beginnings to being recognized as one of the leading dramatic and comedic movie talents in the world, Williams racked up numerous high-profile film roles as well as winning an Academy Award in 1997 for his supporting role in Good Will Hunting.
Coming off the global recognition of his role as the Genie in the Walt Disney Company’s Aladdin — which also sparked a huge feud between the actor and the Mouse House –, Mrs. Doubtfire grossed over $400 million at the global box office and became the second highest-grossing film of 1993 worldwide. Alongside Williams’ Daniel Hillard / Euphenegia Doubtfire, the comedy-drama directed by Chris Columbus also featured Sally Field (Miranda Hillard), Pierce Brosnan (Stu), and Lisa Jakub, Matthew Lawrence, and Mara Wilson, as Daniel and Mirana’s children, Lydia, Chris, and Natalie, respectively.
There is even an R-rated cut of Mrs. Doubtfire that exists, and fans are clamoring for it. Mrs. Doubtfire also took to the Broadway stage in March last year before being suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. The musical is directed by Jerry Zaks, with a book by Karey Kirkpatrick and starred Rob McClure in the titular role.
While Wilson rose to prominence for her role in Mrs. Doubtfire, before going on to star in Miracle on 34th Street (1994) and Matilda (1996), the role of Natalie Hillard could have almost gone to a young Blake Lively.
If only she didn’t bomb her audition…
What happened with Blake Lively and Robin Williams?
According to Mama Mia, Lively completely blew her audition for Mrs. Doubtfire. The Gossip Girl actress was reportedly up against Wilson in some of the final rounds of auditions for the role of the youngest Hillard child. Only five years old at the time, Lively was nervous about auditioning with Robin Williams — who she was apparently a huge fan of.
In order to combat Lively’s fear of acting the part with one of her idols, her father, actor Ernie Lively, reassured her by saying that she would be reading lines not with Williams himself, but Williams’ “twin” brother. Now, most know that Robin Williams does not in fact have an identical twin brother, but Lively was unlikely to know that key piece of information and opted to move forward with the reading.
Turns out, however, that upon entering the casting room “someone introduced Williams as Robin, leading a very starstruck Lively to completely blow her audition.” The now-seasoned actress apparently described the situation as “horrible”.
It’s unusual to imagine anyone other than Mara Wilson playing the role of sweet Natalie Hillard. But the failed audition wouldn’t stop Lively’s continued success. Lively starred as Bridget Vreeland in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005) and its sequel, before gaining worldwide recognition for her starring role as Serena van der Woodsen in CW’s Gossip Girl.
The actress — who is married to Green Lantern (2011) co-star, Ryan Reynolds — has gone on to star in many blockbuster movies like shark thriller The Shallows (2016) and in the psychological genre-bender A Simple Favor (2018) alongside Pitch Perfect (2012) actress, Anna Kendrick.
Many can imagine the feeling Lively felt upon entering a room with Robin Williams. The late actor was the driving force behind many children’s classics during his career. From Peter Banning in Hook (1991) to Alan Parrish in Jumanji (1995) and Theodore Roosevelt in Night at the Museum (2006), Williams gave fans an abundance of memorable performances that will easily identify him as one of the greatest actors of all time. The shock of Williams’ death will be felt for years to come.
Would you have liked to see Blake Lively in Mrs. Doubtfire?