Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

We’re preoccupied with theoretical outcomes, so why not consider Charlie Hunnam playing the Russell Brand part in Forgetting Sarah Marshall?

From left: Charlie Hunnam in 2020 (Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM) and Kristen Bell and Russell Brand at the Forgetting Sarah Marshall premiere in 2008 (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
From left: Charlie Hunnam in 2020 (Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM) and Kristen Bell and Russell Brand at the Forgetting Sarah Marshall premiere in 2008 (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

For the sake of argument, let’s just say you were staring at a shelf of DVDs around 8:30 last night, in search of the movie whose combined powers to amuse and comfort would serve as distraction from the internet’s bottomless pit of election speculation and anxiety. If by some cosmic coincidence, you reached out for Forgetting Sarah Marshall (though you’re now looking over at that same shelf and realizing that Wayne’s World would’ve been an excellent choice as well), here’s another thought exercise to occupy you while your mind races with a million other theoreticals that don’t involve a 12-year-old movie in which composer Peter Bretter (Jason Segel) goes to Hawaii in order to get over the titular Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell), only to find they’re staying at the same resort: What if Sarah’s new beau, Britpop scarecrow Aldous Snow, had been played by Charlie Hunnam instead of Russell Brand?

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This incredibly urgent and important diversion from the feeling of your hair being on fire comes to us courtesy of Collider, to whom Hunnam opened up about his decision to pass on the role during an interview about his turn in the upcoming boxing drama Jungleland.

“Jason Segel wrote Forgetting Sarah Marshall for he and I to do together, and he wrote that role for me,” Hunnam says in the interview. Despite the bespoke part, a successful table read, and the chance to reunite with his old Undeclared buddies—including Segel, Sarah Marshall director Nicholas Stoller, and producer Judd Apatow—Hunnam says he ultimately passed because the romantic comedy didn’t fit with where he wanted to steer his career.

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“It was one of those things where that wasn’t very well received by the inner circle of that production,” he says. “I had to stand my ground and say, ‘Listen, it’s nothing personal. I’m just following my North star.”

The year of Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s release, that North star led Hunnam to the fictional town of Charming, California and a seven-season run as the Hamlet of motorcycles on Sons Of Anarchy—which is to say things worked out pretty well for him in the long run. And though Hunnam tells Collider he ultimately came to terms with being replaced as Snow by Russell Brand, it doesn’t mean that you have to, as you marinate in a psychic stew of unknowns while waiting on the livestream of a press conference from the chief clerk of a state where you no longer live.

Isn’t there some fun in imagining Charlie Hunnam singing “Inside Of You,” as visions of plainly ruinous ballot-initiative results float by? “Surely Brand was able to dig into the needling aspects of Aldous’ personality, but Hunnam would’ve been better at playing all the notes that make Peter admit it’s hard to hate the rock star who’s cuckolded him,” you think, as promising updates slowly overtake the disbelief at how so many of your fellow citizens could allow their racism to override the number of lives ruined and/or ended by Donald Trump in the past four years.

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One thing’s for certain: You would’ve driven yourself much battier if you hadn’t watched Forgetting Sarah Marshall last night.

Managing editor, The A.V. Club

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