Alan Ritchson Recalls Almost Starring in The CW’s Aquaman Pilot

Years before he brought Hank Hall/Hawk to life on Titans, Alan Ritchson made his first visit to the DC Universe in 2005, when he appeared as a young Arthur Curry in an episode of Smallville’s fifth season. The episode proved to be such a ratings success that series creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar began developing an Aquaman pilot for the 2006 TV season. And while it seemed natural to have Ritchson come back, the fledgling CW wanted to go in a different direction.

Ritchson discussed missing out on Aquaman in the latest episode of Michael Rosenbaum’s Inside of You podcast. Apparently, The WB had every intention of bringing him back to headline the new series. He confessed to feeling “overwhelmed” by this, especially since Smallville was his first acting job. But it sounds like his lack of experience is exactly why the studio received pushback over his casting.

“We started working on a deal,” said Ritchson. “And at the time, UPN and Warner Bros. [The WB] had merged to create The CW, and the president of UPN had taken over and he is looking at this roster of shows on the slate and going, ‘Who the hell is that guy?’ [laughs] Which is the same thing I would do! I was sitting there like, ‘I can’t believe it was this easy. I’ve been here three weeks and I’ve got my own show?'”

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“So they called me [saying] ‘We’re trying to fight him on it because we looked for so long and we love you,'” continued Ritchson. “‘But he doesn’t want you to do this. We’ve got to go back and find people. But maybe we won’t find anybody.’ And they didn’t, they went back and they didn’t find anybody. So they came back again. ‘He said he’ll give it a shot, we’ll do a pilot together.’ And then like a week later, they were like ‘Actually, Justin Hartley just came off Passions and he’s available. We’re going to go with Justin Hartley.'”

Aquaman eventually rounded out its cast with Lou Diamond Phillips, Adrianne Palicki, and Ving Rhames before shooting a pilot in early 2006. Unfortunately, The CW passed on the series and the pilot was later released on iTunes, where it became the platform’s most downloaded TV show.

Interestingly, Ritchson made no mention of Will Toale, who was cast as Arthur in the pilot before Hartley signed on. Regardless, The CW’s decision meant that his Smallville appearance didn’t have to be a one-and-done deal. Ritchson later guest-starred in three additional episodes of the series throughout its run. And Hartley joined the show’s main cast as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow.

Would you have watched an Aquaman series with Ritchson as the star? Let us know in the comment section below!

Recommended Reading: Aquaman by Geoff Johns Omnibus

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