Leah Remini has had no shortage of acting gigs in Hollywood. She played the sharp-tongued Carrie Heffernan on the CBS sitcom The King of Queens from 1998 to 2007. She’s also starred in comedy films like ‘Old School’ and ‘Handsome,’ according to IMDb. After leaving the Church of Scientology in 2013, she continued to move into the spotlight. Her documentary series, titled Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, sheds light on the alleged harm and corruption of the controversial organization.
Regarding Remini’s acting career, it could easily be said that she has it all. And while many struggling actors would swap teeth and claws to be in her position, she still had to audition and was turned down for important roles — potentially life-changing roles. Life has certainly changed for the better for the cast of the hit NBC sitcom Friends. Between 25 and 30 million viewers (or more) tune in each week, according to The New York Times. Many of the characters became household names, and years later we still wonder: am I a Monica or a Rachel? A Chandler or a Joey?
While Remini had a guest role on Friends, she actually auditioned for a much larger role. Let’s take a trip down memory lane to find out which leading lady she was ready for.
Leah Remini took on Courteney Cox
Leah Remini auditioned for Monica Geller, Ross’s neurotic but caring friend, top-notch cook and younger sister. After making it to the final round of auditions, she felt like the role was hers. According to Remini, the casting decision was up to her and another actor. But when Courteney Cox showed up at the studio, Remini knew it was game over. Cox had championed Rachel Green and was now being considered for Monica. Casting director Ellie Kanner said of Cox, “We were just blown away.” We were like, ‘Oh shit! I guess she must be Monica,” E! News.
In her 2015 memoir Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, Remini wrote that she “cried for days” after being turned down from the role, according to People. Given the show was a smash hit, disappointment is an understandable reaction. But it was also the circumstances that made Remini feel let down. She told MediaVillage in 2016, “As an actress, every time you audition, you think this could change my life. I could get my car from the repo or get a nice apartment that’s not in a bar in Hollywood, so everything drives in those moments.” In other words, a lot depended on the potential role.
Leah Remini got her 15 minutes of Friends fame
The starving artist lifestyle can be devastating, so it’s no surprise that Leah Remini was waiting to play Monica Geller. Luckily for Remini, she subsequently booked many jobs that came with sizable paychecks. She also earned her 15 minutes of Friends fame in the final episode of Season 1, playing a woman in labor who eventually bonded with Joey Tribbiani.
Besides Remini, who were the other candidates for Monica? “Facts of Life” star Nancy McKeon, according to E! News. Although the creators had cast comedian Janeane Garofalo in the role, it’s not confirmed if she ever auditioned. And here’s the lineup of past auditions for Rachel Green: Jane Krakowski, Téa Leoni, Tiffani Thiessen, and Lisa Whelchel.
Years later, Remini shared a bit of perspective, saying, “If you get your show, that was the King of Queens for me, that was my part, that was my show, I should have that part.” For Remini, it certainly helps, his Being able to pay rent when it comes to disappointments. At this point, the Monica Geller saga is all the water under the bridge.