‘Frasier’: Lisa Kudrow Nearly Played Roz Doyle Character

by Keeli Parkey

The casts of two famous sitcoms almost looked pretty different than how they appeared on the small screen. Those two beloved television shows are “Frasier” and “Friends.”

Picture this: Instead of playing the character Phoebe Buffay on “Friends,” actress Lisa Kudrow is cast to play Roz Doyle on “Frasier.” It just doesn’t seem right, does it? Who else could be Phoebe but Kudrow? And, who else could be Roz other than Peri Gilpin?

Well at one point in time, Kudrow as Roz was a possibility.

According to a 2018 article by Vanity Fair, Kudrow was one of several actresses who was considered for the part as NBC was developing “Frasier” during the early 1990s. The show was a spinoff of the wildly popular “Cheers” and starred Kelsey Grammer in the title role.

Of course, Grammer was going to play Frasier in the spinoff. And, the casting of David Hyde Pierce as Frasier’s brother Niles, John Mahoney as his father Martin, and Jane Leeves as the healthcare professional who takes care of Martin, were easy to decide.

Several Actresses Auditioned for the Role of Roz on ‘Frasier’

It was casting the right actress to play Roz that proved problematic, according to the article. And, there were some pretty famous names who auditioned for the role. These included Salma Hayek, Allison Janney, Patricia Clarkson, Janeane Garofalo, and Hope Davis. Also on this list were Lisa Kudrow and Peri Gilpin.

According to Gilpin, she got to know Kudrow pretty well during the audition process for “Frasier.”

“Lisa and I went on at least five auditions together for Roz,” she told Vanity Fair. “We became fast friends because we were in the same boat, young actresses trying to get a job.”

It was Kudrow who the powers that be behind “Frasier” preferred at first. However, according to the article, even though Kudrow was very funny as Roz, the show needed someone who was a better fit as someone who challenged Frasier. So, a choice had to be made.

Kudrow Reportedly Encouraged Gilpin to Enjoy Playing Roz

And after much consideration, the showrunners of “Frasier” decided that Peri Gilpin was the best fit to play Roz. Gilpin reportedly got the call that she was hired for the show while out at dinner. She accepted the job and even got a call from Kudrow encouraging Gilpin to take it.

“Lisa called me later and said, ‘I want you to know this is your job. I don’t want you to feel bad about it. I want you to enjoy it.’ She’s amazing,” Gilpin told Vanity Fair.

Obviously, things turned out just fine for Lisa Kudrow. After she didn’t get the job on “Frasier” she was cast on “Mad About You.” And, of course, she later became a television legend with her portrayal of Phoebe Buffay on “Friends.”

Here’s an interesting fact about the character Roz Doyle on “Frasier.” According to the Vanity Fair article, the character was named after Roz Doyle who had worked as a producer on the hit sitcom “Wings.” The real-life Roz Doyle passed away due to cancer in 1991.