‘Schitt’s Creek’: Why Catherine O’Hara Initially Turned Down the Role of Moira Rose

Catherine O’Hara won an Emmy in 2020 for playing the once-wealthy mother with the unidentifiable accent on the TV series Schitt’s Creek. However, O’Hara originally said no to Eugene Levy, the series co-creator who offered her the character of Moira Rose.

How ‘Schitt’s Creek’ star Catherine O’Hara got cast as the iconic character Moira Rose

Catherine O'Hara
Catherine O’Hara visits SiriusXM Studios in Jan. 2019 | Santiago Felipe/Getty Images

In 2014, both Levy and O’Hara talked to BuzzFeed about their decades-long friendship — and their beloved TV series, Schitt’s Creek. Did Eugene and Dan Levy specifically want O’Hara to play Moira?

“Yeah, how many people said no?” O’Hara joked in the interview.

“She was the very first,” Levy revealed. “We had nobody else in mind besides Catherine. The thing was, Could we actually get her to do it?

Because I’m lazy, not because I’m popular,” O’Hara quipped back.

Why is the actor so hesitant — or in her words, lazy — when it comes to joining a cast?

You’re very, very, very picky about what you do, you know?” Levy told O’Hara. “You’re very selective.”

Levy even revealed that O’Hara turned the role down, at first.

“… in actual fact, you said, ‘No, I can’t do it,'” the Schitt’s Creek co-creator recalled. “Then I had to go and call somebody else, and they said yes, and then I heard from Catherine saying–“

At this point in the BuzzFeed interview, O’Hara interrupted Levy to correct his retelling.

“No! You called me!” she threw back at Levy. “You said, ‘I know you’re not sure you want to do this series, but will you do the pilot presentation please?'” However, O’Hara saw right through that sneaky ploy.

“He knew what he was doing,” the Schitt’s Creek actor said. “He knew I’d be in.”

Right,” Levy agreed. He continued to explain his casting strategy:

And then I said, ‘Listen, there’s no ties at all. Come and do the pilot and even if this thing goes, you’re fine. There’s no commitment.’ And she said OK.

Why Catherine O’Hara has ‘avoided’ joining the cast of TV series for years

However, turning down Schitt’s Creek was nothing personal. (After all, she and Levy have been friends and creative collaborators for years). Why has O’Hara been so hesitant to take on a TV role?

“I have avoided series because you’re in the hands of strangers,” she admitted to BuzzFeed. “At least with most of the series I’ve been offered. Even if you’ve seen their other work, you never know what it’s going to be like.” But Levy provides O’Hara with a distinct creative environment from other projects she’s done.

“… I’m so spoiled from work that Eugene and I have done together where I could collaborate and I could be heard and have a say in what I was doing and how I was serving the project,” she shared.

“… that’s why I’m glad we got Catherine,” Levy admitted. “And then, of course when this thing actually happened again, when I found [Schitt’s Creek] was going [to series], I had to kind of go back and beg.”

Schitt's Creek cast
Annie Murphy, Daniel Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy of Schitt’s Creek | Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

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Perhaps another reason O’Hara didn’t go out for a ton of TV roles? She recently admitted to The New Yorker that she’s “bad at auditioning.”

“I always was,” the Schitt’s Creek star revealed. Once O’Hara gets onset, she’s completely fine — it’s the casting process she’s not so confident in.

“When you’re on the job, it’s so collaborative,” O’Hara explained. “It’s about everyone. When you’re auditioning, it’s only you. It’s so not related to what the job will be, really.”