‘Just Shoot Me!’: David Spade Wasn’t the First Actor Cast as Dennis Finch

David Spade wasn’t part of the original cast of Just Shoot Me!, but when he came on board, one of his co-stars said the SNL alum provided the “spark” the show needed. Find out why Spade replaced another actor.

George Segal as Jack Gallo, David Spade as Dennis Finch, Wendie Malick as Nina Van Horn, Enrico Colantoni as Elliot DiMauro, and Laura San Giacomo as Maya Gallo on 'Just Shoot Me'
Cast of ‘Just Shoot Me!’ | Alice S. Hall/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

David Spade was cast later on ‘Just Shoot Me!’

Just Shoot Me! premiered in 1997 and ran for seven seasons. Fans loved the cast, including the snarky assistant played by David Spade, though he wasn’t originally cast in the pilot.

During a 2020 Just Shoot Me! cast reunion, each of the actors recalled how they landed their roles: Laura San Giacomo played Maya Gallo, George Segal played her father Jack. Wendie Malick was cast as former supermodel and fashion editor Nina Van Horn and Enrico Colantoni played photographer Elliott DiMauro.

Spade explained how he came in to play Dennis Finch after the cast was already established. The character was played by another actor for the pilot and it wasn’t originally a prominent role on the show.

David Spade provided ‘the spark’ the show needed

When they reshot the Just Shoot Me! pilot, they wanted Spade on board, but he was hesitant, according to the show’s creator, Steven Levitan.

“David didn’t join easily,” Levitan recalled. “We wanted him but he wasn’t sure … he didn’t want to make the wrong choice.”

“I joined a little later than these guys,” Spade explained. “It was already funny and [had] four seasoned actors that were great and I sort of saw an opportunity to be a part of that.”

He continued, “It was fine without me, but if I jumped in then it would be just one more element to goof around … I was just sort of running in circles in the middle of it all.”

Segal believes that Spade was a critical piece of the ensemble cast. “[The show] was not together,” the actor noted. “That show did not come together until David joined us. That was the spark that brought that show to life.”

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David Spade had an adjustment after his ‘SNL’ days

The climate on Just Shoot Me! was far different from what Spade had experienced as a cast member on Saturday Night Live.

Malick recalled how Spade had a slight period of adjustment. “I remember it took a while for Davey to come and have lunch with us on the set,” she shared. “He was a little worried that maybe we were enemy territory. I think it came from Saturday Night Live, that was much more competitive than what we were doing.”

Spade explained that SNL had a different vibe but he made the adjustment and bonded with the Just Shoot Me! cast. “I think it was partially a little scary at SNL and I knew not to step on toes there,” he explained. “And everyone was sort of in their own world, fighting for themselves.”

“And this part was everyone, I realized, wanting me to do good and I wanted them to do good,” Spade added. “It’s like a little team.”