Red Dwarf Could Have Been A Team-Up Between Alfred Molina And Alan Rickman

Back when “Red Dwarf” was being cast in the late 1980s, co-creator Doug Naylor felt he had a hit on his hands … a sentiment not shared by the BBC, the show’s original network. Not only did Naylor like the premise, but he seemingly had two notable actors already in his corner. According to a 2019 interview with the Guardian, Naylor pointed out that Alan Rickman and Alfred Molina were definitely interested in playing Rimmer and Lister. Or rather, Lister and Rimmer, respectively, with both actors playing against type. Naylor said: 

“We thought: ‘How can this fail?’ But the BBC rejected it three times. Alan Rickman and Alfred Molina liked the script so we considered casting them as Rimmer and Lister. Rickman wanted to be Lister because he thought playing Rimmer would be too easy. In the end, Craig Charles and Chris Barrie just seemed a better double act.”

One might be able to easily picture Rickman, an actor quite good at playing intelligent but perpetually put-upon characters as the annoyed, uptight Rimmer, with the more outgoing Molina as Lister. No, Rickman wanted to play the “slobby” character, and Molina the “tightwad.” And while the two might have acted well in a dramatic scene, Naylor indicated that they weren’t as good comedic partners as the eventual cast. 

Molina and Rickman would only work together once, and even then, they’d never act opposite one another. Each actor appeared in one of four 20-minute monologues, aired as a quarter of 1989 TV specials called “Revolutionary Witness.” Each monologue was written by playwright Peter Barnes, each about the French Revolution. Rickman and Molina both had featured monologues, but, as stated, did not share the screen.

Luckily, Rickman, Molina, Charles, and Barrie have all done fine for themselves.

Leave a Comment