‘That ’70s Show’ Almost Starred Chuck Norris in an Iconic Role

Red Forman was the fan-favorite family patriarch in the late ’90s television sitcom That ’70s Show. While the show wrapped up more than a decade ago, it is almost impossible to think of anyone playing the iconic war veteran.

If the writers had gotten their way, we would have seen another legendary actor in the role of Forman. When the writers created Forman, they had Chuck Norris in mind. The role was written for Norris as he had been a member of the U.S. Air Force. However, due to scheduling conflicts, the part ultimately went to Kurtwood Smith.

The show was set in the ’70s

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That ’70s Show first aired on Aug. 23, 1998, on Fox. The series followed the lives of six teenage friends as they navigated their way through life and friendship. That ’70s Show was set in the fictional Point Place, Wisconsin.

The show was set with the late ’70s in mind. The first season focused on 1976, and after 12 episodes, it moved to 1977 for the following two seasons. Toward the end of the third season, the show moved to 1978 and remained there until the beginning of the sixth season.

The remaining episodes happened in 1979. The series ended at a New Year’s Eve party in 1979 as the characters counted down to Jan. 1, 1989.

That ’70s Show was widely popular for its comedy and because it addressed social issues. Due to its setting, the show addressed issues of the ’70s, such as generational conflict, sexual attitudes, underage drinking, drug use, and economic hardships.

Red Forman gave tough love to his family

Reginald Albert Forman is the father of Eric and Laurie Forman and Kitty’s husband. In the show, Forman is an ill-tempered and disgruntled war veteran. He was sometimes seen as insensitive to other people, but he described his behavior as “the necessity of being a man.”

He had a very complicated relationship with his children. On the one hand, he adored his daughter Laurie while his son Eric got his tough side. In his defense, Forman had to put up with many things since his house was the usual hangout spot for Eric and his friends.

Kitty, Forman’s wife, was his complete opposite. She was loving and nurturing, and they seemed to complement each other well. Throughout the series, Forman’s health issues were used as a running gag.

At one point, he was required to cut back on red meat, which he loved, and his refusal to live healthy landed him in the hospital. Forman was played by Smith, who also used his relationship with his father as a significant source of inspiration for the role.

Smith wasn’t the original choice to play Forman

Chuck Norris
Chuck Norris | Cannon/Getty Images)

When the writers were creating the show’s characters, they wanted to have an ensemble cast. Forman was written as a tough yet loving father who had served in the Korean War and World War II.

When the creative team was sourcing for actors, they reached out to Norris to play Forman. The iconic actor had considered taking on the character, but his schedule prevented him from hopping on to the project, as Norris was still involved with the long-running show Walker, Texas Ranger.

The two shows overlapped since Norris’s crime series ran from 1993 until 2001, and That ’70s Show began in 1998. Norris was hugely sought out to play Forman due to his time as a U.S. Air Force member.

Norris had to turn down the role. Regardless of the situation, the character turned out iconic in the end as Smith brought Forman to life and did so exceptionally well.