Woody Harrelson obviously wasn’t the only actor in line to play Hoyle: Ron Shelton was also considering up-and-comer Keanu Reeves for the role. It goes without saying that “White Men Can’t Jump” would have been a very different film with Reeves in Harrelson’s place — but even before he was cast, he was giving the extra mile in his auditions, submitting to weeks of pick-up games and even trying out a bit of improv with Wesley Snipes. Unfortunately, he and his scene partner weren’t quite on the same wavelength.
“[Reeves] would improvise and say something where there would be a natural response from me, and I just left him out there like dirty laundry,” Snipes recalled to EW. Of course, that’s not to say that Snipes cost Reeves the role. Shelton later admitted that his hopeful candidate was simply “not a basketball player,” in spite of his incredible work ethic. At the end of the day, Harrelson really was the best man for the job:
“Woody and Wesley had magic instantly. Woody’s a great counterpuncher. Wesley could come up with a funny line and Woody could steal the moment with his reaction. That’s the key to chemistry and you don’t get it very often. You need two people who can’t do what the other one does.”