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

20 years have passed 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 Hansel as “Male Model of the Year” in the 2001 film alongside director and star Ben Stiller, who revealed the bomb in a interview with Esquire.

In honor of the film’s 20th anniversary, stars Stiller, Christine Taylor and Milla Jovovich recalled making the hilarious satirical film about the fashion industry and revealed that Gyllenhaal was competing for Hansel at a time when the “Wedding Crashers” star “almost failed due to other commitments.

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

leg pose
Ben Stiller played the goofy model Derek Zoolander in the 2001 sitcom.

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

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

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

“Andy Dick was supposed to play [the villain] Mugatu, “added the” Along Came Polly “actor, noting that Dick had a conflict with the filming of a sitcom. Now it is impossible for me to imagine anyone but Will [Ferrell] doing it.”

The film was released just two weeks after 9/11 and originally received less than positive reviews. But sadly, it has remained a cult classic two decades later, with a sequel 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 of Everett

“It was a very difficult time with comedy,” Taylor said. “Laughing can be a remedy in the moment, but the truth is that people were not prepared.”

“It was a weird moment,” Stiller added.

The cast also revealed how they avoided receiving an R rating and settled for a PG-13 rating instead. “Ben went to the leaderboard to say, ‘Listen, would I ever put my wife into something that’s questionable?’” Taylor explained. The “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 of Everett

She continued, “Because he was able to use that as part of his plot, along with keeping it shorter and decreasing the number of characters that made it into that scene, [that] had to do with how he ended up being rated [PG-13]. “

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