Some television characters seem completely destined for certain actors -- Jean-Luc Picard, Elaine Benes, and Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli, to name a few. It can be hard to imagine just anyone else filling these iconic roles. Yet, as "Happy Days" alum Anson Williams knows firsthand, sometimes actors come dangerously close to missing out on what ends up being one of their most memorable parts.
For 10 years, Williams played the dim but enthusiastic Potsie on "Happy Days," making up a memorable quartet of actors with Henry Winkler ("Fonzie"), Ron Howard ("Richie") and Don Most ("Ralph"). The four men were each perfect for their unique "Happy Days" characters, but as Williams tells "Oprah: Where Are They Now?" in the above video, the auditions might have changed everything.
Williams remembers his own audition for the show quite well -- even though he nearly missed it.
"On my way there, my car stalls. I'm hours late," he says. "I go to Paramount Studios, I go up to the receptionist. 'Hi, I'm sorry I'm so late. It's Anson Williams.' And I hear, 'Where the hell you been?' She goes, 'You're lucky. We haven't cast Potsie yet.' I say, 'What's a Potsie?'"
Williams, however, wasn't the only actor to audition for the "Happy Days" part. In fact, his co-star Don Most had auditioned for Potsie as well.
"He was so good; he actually screen tested for Potsie," Williams says. "He didn't get it... It wasn't because I was more talented; it was hair color and [things like that]. But they loved him so much, they created Ralph!"
Decades later, Williams and Most are still close friends. The time they spent together on the show only strengthened their personal bond, but on a professional level, both actors agree that they couldn't have been more different.
Don Most, left, and Anson Williams, right
"You were a much more committed actor than me," Williams says to Most.
"I was maybe a little too serious," Most admits. "I'm like, 'I want to do another take. I want to do another one!'"
"And I'm going, 'It was fine. It was funny. Stop. Can we go now? I'm hungry,'" Williams jokes.
"Happy Days" trivia: Henry Winkler used to personally call the people who sent him "Happy Days" fan mail.
"Oprah: Where Are They Now?" airs on OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network.