Doctor Who: 5 Men Who Were Almost The Doctor
But It Was Almost: Damn near everybody in Hollywood! Fox wanted some big names behind the TV movie/pilot, and they tried very hard to get them. Tom Hanks, a big Who fan, turned down the role feeling that an American Doctor was just wrong. Harrison Ford also said no since he didn't want to be in television. Jim Carrey, who had never seen the show, said that a non-fan stepping into something so iconic would just be insulting. Steve Martin was apparently very keen to get the part, but they ultimately didn't cast him.
Look at the Brits that were on the list! Eric Idle, Tim McInnery, Anthony Head, Tim McInnerny, Tony Slattery, and the man they eventually settled on... Tim Curry. Curry was very interested in The Doctor because he was keen to have some non-villainous roles. He worried though, and asked his friend Paul McGann for advice on how to go about it. When scheduling conflicts came up (Probably Muppet Treasure Island), Curry was out and McGann was in. So no matter what you say about McGann, he landed a role that at one time had dozens of the best names in movies and television attached.