Kurtwood Smith portrayed the family patriarch, Red Forman, on That '70s Show but the character was almost played by Chuck Norris. Smith appeared in all eight seasons of the period sitcom and was revered as a fan-favorite for his stern behavior and catchphrases. Red's portrayal, as well as the entire Forman family dynamic, could have been much different had the show's creators got their first choice.
Red Forman was displayed as the tough, yet loving, father in the family. He was a softy when it came to his daughter, Laurie, as she tended to get away with everything. Eric, on the other hand, saw the brunt of Red's stern parenting techniques. To Red's defense, he had to put up with a great deal considering the Forman's house was the main hangout for Eric's friends. Red's wife, Kitty, was the opposite of her husband in a lot of ways but they supplemented each other well.
That '70s Show was created by Bonnie Turner, Terry Turner, and Mark Brazill. Before it debuted in 1998, the creative team behind the series was tasked with putting together the ensemble cast. Red was written as a hardened father due to his time serving in WWII and the Korean War. The producers initially sought out Chuck Norris for the role of Red. Norris was said to be their first choice for the part, and now that the series ended over a decade ago, it's nearly impossible to envision anyone other than Smith playing Red. Norris ultimately turned down the part of Red Forman due to scheduling issues.
The legendary actor truly considered taking the role of Red for That '70s Show, but his schedule just didn't allow him to join the project. When the sitcom was developed, Norris was still starring as Ranger Cordell Walker in Walker, Texas Ranger. The beloved crime series ran from 1993 until 2001, which overlapped with That '70s Show's early seasons. Norris seemed like a fitting pick at the time due to the time he spent as a member of the U.S. Air Force.
Smith may not have been the first choice for Red but the situation worked out in the end. Red's relationship with Eric was rocky at times but as his son got older, they got a better understanding of one another. He also served as a father figure to Steven Hyde after the young man was put in a tough spot through his family. Red suffered from serious health issues but was given a new lease on life. Despite that, he never gave up on calling others a "dumbass" or using her famous "my-foot-in-your-ass" threats.
After Smith received the role of Red, he decided to use his relationship with his father as the inspiration behind Red's behavior. He truly had an understanding of the character, making Red one of the most unforgettable figures on That '70s Show. Smith continues to act to this day, but he will always be remembered by some viewers as Red Forman. It's unclear if Norris would have had that type legacy if he took on the role, as is the case with many long-lasting TV parts.