Late “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek was no stranger to having actors portray him on screen. The only catch was the depictions were generally done for the sake of comedy.
For example, “Saturday Night Live” set the likes of Will Ferrell to the task. But if someone ever made a serious movie about Alex Trebek or one related to the show, who did he want to play him?
Well, in a surprise to virtually none of the movie-watching people in the world, his first choice was Tom Hanks. You’d be hard-pressed to go out and find someone upset about Tom Hanks playing them in a movie. Now, the resemblance isn’t completely there. But that’s what hair and makeup departments are for. Plus, the late “Jeopardy!” legend’s reasoning behind the choice was that Hanks could play anything. And the actor’s resume backs that up.
But if they couldn’t get Tom Hanks looking like the iconic “Jeopardy!” host, they’d had an even tougher go of it with his second choice. In a 2014 Q&A with USA Today, Alex Trebek threw out a second name for who he’d want stepping into his shoes on the silver screen. Who was it? None other than Cate Blanchett.
And before you start thinking that she’d never pull it off, there is actually some precedent for it in her acting career. Bob Dylan fans, movie fans, and Cate Blanchett fans alike may remember the 2007 film “I’m Not There.”
The movie was well-received critically, and it features Blanchett taking a turn portraying the legendary singer-songwriter. Granted, Alex Trebek and Bob Dylan are two completely different figures. But she has the range, in theory.
Late ‘Jeopardy!’ Icon Alex Trebek Also Had Thoughts on Who Best Portrayed Him Comedically
Most of the American “Jeopardy!” audience is likely familiar with the Will Ferrell interpretation of Alex Trebek from the “Saturday Night Live” Celebrity Jeopardy! sketches. But pervasive as Alex Trebek was as a public figure, there have been plenty of different sketch comedy interpretations.
As a matter of fact, we actually know which one was Trebek’s favorite. Sorry “SNL,” it wasn’t Will Ferrell. It was a fellow Canadian. And if you don’t recognize the name Eugene Levy, there’s a good chance you’d recognize him from stuff like “Schitt’s Creek” or the “American Pie” franchise.
But regardless of who portrayed him, the late “Jeopardy!” host took all of the imitations as high flattery. In an interview with the Archive of American Television, he talked about what they meant to him.
“It means you’ve arrived. If you do a take-off of somebody, it is a sign that you believe your audience will immediately recognize who you’re poking fun at,” Trebek said. “And if that’s the case, that means there must be a lot of people who have watched your show over the years or are watching now. So, they know immediately what the reference is.”