Jake Gyllenhaal Auditioned for the Role of Hansel in 'Zoolander' Before Owen Wilson Was Cast

On the occasion of Zoolander's 20th anniversary, Ben Stiller recalls how Jake Gyllenhaal tried out for the 2001 film

Jake Gyllenhaal
Photo: Mark Sagliocco/Getty

Jake Gyllenhaal was almost part of an iconic comedy that premiered 20 years ago.

The Donnie Darko star, now 40, was mentioned as part of a retrospective on the movie Zoolander published in Esquire on Tuesday, in which the film's director and star Ben Stiller discussed some of the actors who auditioned for various roles.

Gyllenhaal was at one point considered for the role of Hansel, which ultimately went to frequent Stiller collaborator Owen Wilson.

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Due to some potential scheduling conflicts with Wilson, Stiller and his team held auditions for the role of super-cool model Hansel, and Gyllenhaal's tryout stuck out in his mind.

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

He also mentioned another star who almost made it into the film.

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"Andy Dick was supposed to play Mugatu," he said of the villain role that was ultimately played by Will Ferrell.

"Now it's impossible for me to picture anybody but Will doing it," Stiller added.

Zoolander, a mash-up fashion and spy movie satire, premiered in theaters on Sept. 28, 2001, to mixed reviews. In the years since, however, the star-studded comedy has gained a devoted cult following.

Enthusiasm for the movie eventually gave way to a sequel in 2016, Zoolander 2, which featured many of the same cast members along with Penelope Cruz.

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