It doesn't matter which one of Rory's boyfriends you ultimately rooted for, the scene where Dean and the younger Gilmore meet for the first time is unforgettable. However, according to Entertainment Weekly, another actor almost played Dean on Gilmore Girls. As hard as it is to imagine anyone in the role aside from Jared Padalecki, an entire pilot episode was filmed with Nathan Wetherington, and in a new interview, he told his brief Gilmore Girls story to EW.
Just in case the revelation that Padalecki wasn't the first Dean didn't shock you enough, then Wetherington wants you to know that he doesn't hold that distinction either. The actor told EW that there were actually three pilots filmed for the series, and another actor played the original Dean. That guy still remains nameless, but it's a fun fact you can bust out the next time you're trying to impress your fellow Stars Hollow devotees.
While the original Dean seems to have been lost in the annals of Gilmore Girls history, Wetherington's take on the character lives on through the unaired pilot, which is always floating around on the internet somewhere. The 43-year-old actor revealed to EW that he doesn't remember much about filming the episode, aside from the numerous takes required to get Rory's books to fall just right for her meet-cute with Dean. He told the magazine,
"'Gilmore Girls' was my first experience on set, ever, professionally. We shot that scene, like, 45 times so they could get the books to fall the right way. It took all day."
Who knew it took so much effort to artfully drop books? You can check out Wetherington's take on the hallway scene in the clip unearthed by HelloGiggles in 2016 below.
His Dean is definitely... different, but to be fair, Wetherington did say that this was his first time in front of the camera, and he revealed that he didn't feel entirely comfortable in his own skin. Compared to the easy way Padalecki pulls off his Rosemary's Baby name-drop and casual flirting, it's clear the actor doesn't seem at home in Dean's jacket. In his interview, he explained,
"I kind of let myself get hustled. I remember going into makeup for the first time and they sprayed my hair over and they were combing it down and I didn't know if I could say anything. I was like, 'This doesn't look like me, I don't know what's going on right now.' I remember feeling very uncomfortable in my own skin."
But, by his own admission, Wetherington's mind was on another role while he was filming the Gilmore Girls pilot. In addition to briefly landing the role of Dean, he was also in the running for the role of Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequels. Unfortunately, the actor psyched himself out a bit too much, and pulled himself out of the running for the role of Anakin before it was cast — a move that he ultimately went on to regret so much that he penned a letter to George Lucas.
Shortly after removing himself from contention for the Star Wars prequels, Wetherington received a letter from Warner Brothers that let him know that the role of Dean had been recast, paving the way for Padalecki and his floppy hair to play Rory's first love. It was a bit of a double whammy for the actor, who then went on to lose out on another iconic teen TV role — The O.C.'s Seth. Basically, Wetherington was almost your TV boyfriend twice.
Wetherington is still working on finding his big break in Hollywood. According to EW, he's currently putting the finishing touches on his directorial debut, A Thousand Miles Behind. And even though he's not the Dean Forester you fell for in Gilmore Girls Season 1, the actor will always be an honorary member of the Gilmore family thanks to his participation in the mythical unaired pilot.