‘Roswell’ Almost Cast Heath Ledger

‘Roswell’ Almost Cast Heath Ledger
Tue, Jun 27, 2000 10:55 AM PDT
by Kate O’Hare

LOS ANGELES ( – This weekend, Australian actor Heath Ledger will join Mel Gibson in “The Patriot,” an historical epic which many expect to be a blockbuster. Many also expect Ledger, who plays Gibson’s son, to become a hot commodity on the basis of this film.

But this isn’t the first time that American audiences have seen Ledger.

He was in the American film “10 Things I Hate About You,” but he also played an Irish warrior in the 1997 FOX series “Roar,” created by Shaun Cassidy (“American Gothic,” “Cover Me: Based on the True Life of an FBI Family”).

Pulled after only a few airings, “Roar” still has several episodes that have never aired in the U.S. “There are a few of those,” says Cassidy. “Nothing stays in the vault forever. And Heath Ledger’s about to become a big movie star, I’m sure. He’s on his way.”

FOX, though, had one more chance to snag Ledger, during the initial development phase for “Roswell,” currently renewed for a second season on the WB. The drama about teen aliens was originally developed for FOX under the title “Roswell High” (the same as the series of young-adult novels it was inspired by). It currently stars Jason Behr, Katherine Heigl and Brendan Fehr as three humanoid aliens; and Shiri Appleby, Colin Hanks and Majandra Delfino as the human teens that love them.

”Roswell” executive producer Jonathan Frakes tells, “FOX had Heath Ledger. We could have had Heath Ledger. We tested Heath Ledger for Jason Behr’s part. FOX refused to take him because of `Roar.’ Because `Roar’ bombed, they tested him and didn’t hire him.”

Any regrets? “Oh, man,” says Frakes, “but I think we did pretty well with Mr. Behr.”

And in the “it’s a small world” category, Frakes is currently developing a science-fiction/black-comedy movie at Columbia called “Steve Was Here,” with “The Patriot” producer Dean Devlin.