‘Family Ties’: Why Did Matthew Broderick Turn Down an Iconic Role on the Show?

When we follow TV show families for years, it gets hard to believe that the actors aren’t truly related. Within the walls of their make-believe household, we watch kids grow up, parents teach lessons, and families grow closer. The Hollywood talents behind our favorite characters become permanently linked with their on-screen characters. 

Audience members aren’t privy to the tough decisions casting directors make while forming these fictional families. In the case of Family Tiesone of the iconic Keaton children was almost associated with an entirely different famous face. 

‘Family Ties’ was an on-screen staple of the 80s

RELATED: Where Are the Biggest Sitcom Stars of the ’80s Today? 

IMDb recaps the wholesome sitcom that kept audiences entertained for seven seasons. The series follows the Keaton family, a tight-knit crew whose political views couldn’t be further apart. Parents Steven and Elyse are former hippies who have retained their “radical” liberal views. Their children, on the other hand, are strictly conservative fans of Reagan. Despite their many differences, the household is full of plenty of love and laughter, with every episode imparting a lesson. 

Though the show can still be enjoyed today, it was especially beloved in the 80s for showcasing a family dynamic that many viewers could relate to. The diverse worldviews of the family members meant that virtually any viewer could find a like-minded Keaton to root for. It also echoed the reality of the 80s, in which the younger generation often found their views at odds with those of their parents. 

A shining star of Family Ties was Alex Keaton. As the oldest son, Alex took on a leadership role within the house and attempted to impart his staunch, conservative mindset on his younger siblings. It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Michael J. Fox in the role of the Young Republican, but it was almost given to Matthew Broderick. 

Matthew Broderick turned down a huge role

Matthew Broderick
Matthew Broderick | John Lamparski/Getty Images

RELATED: Why Matthew Broderick Never Wanted to Appear in ‘Sex and the City’ With Wife Sarah Jessica Parker

 Fox was beloved on both sides of the political aisle for his portrayal of Alex Keaton. Family Ties creator Gary David Goldberg, on the other hand, wasn’t initially a fan. According to Mental Floss, Fox chose to highlight the darker side of Alex during his audition, and Goldberg didn’t like the characterization. Instead, it was a tape from Broderick that caught his eye. 

In a conversation with the Television Academy, Goldberg said he was ready to “make a deal” after seeing Broderick’s talents. Both Mental Floss and Goldberg’s interview, however, recount Broderick’s reluctance to leave New York for LA, and the partnership fell through. 

After Broderick turned Alex down, Fox got a second chance. In the end, things worked out for the best. Goldberg loved Fox’s new take on the role, and so did the public. Alex landed Fox a litany of Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. Fox also ended up meeting his wife on the set of Family Ties – clearly, it was the right place for him to be. 

The star found success in other places 

RELATED: Does Sarah Jessica Parker Have a Higher Net Worth Than Her Husband, Matthew Broderick? 

It’s safe to say that Broderick doesn’t have too many regrets about his decision, either. Though Alex Keaton helped to launch Fox’s lucrative movie career, Family Ties‘ years on air coincided with some big hits for Broderick. Most notably, the actor starred as Ferris Bueller in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, an indisputably iconic role that earned Broderick a Golden Globe nomination of his own. 

Decades later, Broderick continues to act along with his wife, Sarah Jessica Parker. Recently, he’s lent his voice to modern classics like Bojack Horseman and Rick & Morty. Though Broderick would’ve done a great job with the role of Alex, he continues to be just fine without it.