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Sidney Poitier almost played President Bartlet on 'The West Wing'

The talks didn't get too far, but creator Aaron Sorkin says he was offered the role.

LOS ANGELES — Sidney Poitier, the first Black actor to win an Oscar for best lead performance, died Thursday at 94.

The groundbreaking performer, who nabbed the Academy Award in 1964 for “Lilies of the Field," passed away at his Los Angeles home.

Born in Florida and raised in both the Bahamas and United States, he reached unprecedented heights in his career by shattering stereotypes and changing the way Black actors were portrayed on screen. In doing so, Poitier paved the way for the outstanding performers who continue to make history of their own.

One role Poitier almost held, that is perhaps less widely-known: president.

Well, at least on TV.

Back in 2014, the Hollywood Reporter marked the 15th anniversary of Aaron Sorkin's award-winning drama 'The West Wing.' The publication spoke with Scott Sassa, the former west coast president of NBC Entertainment.

Sassa revealed that Poitier was actually the first person offered the role of fictitious, yet legendary, President Josiah Bartlet. But, the creators seemingly couldn't afford him.

"We offered it to Sidney Poitier but we couldn't get that deal started, it was just too rich for our blood," Sorkin told British film magazine Empire.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the talks with Poitier did not get far. 

Jason Robards was dropped from consideration due to health troubles, Sorkin told the Hollywood Reporter. He said Hal Holbrook and John Cullum were also considered before the creators landed on Martin Sheen, who received six Emmy nominations for leading actor.

'Schitt's Creek' fans may be interested to know that Eugene Levy was almost cast as White House Communications Director Toby Ziegler in 'The West Wing.'

Sorkin told The Hollywood Reporter that Levy was "fantastic" and "compelling" when he read for the role, but producers ultimately couldn't take their eyes off Richard Schiff. Schiff went on to win an Emmy for outstanding supporting actor.

The political series garnered critical acclaim during its 7-season run.

Poitier, of course, continued to shine brightly during that time. He was presented with an honorary Academy Award in 2001. Poitier's lengthy résumé includes starring performances in films like "The Defiant Ones," "In the Heat of the Night," "A Patch of Blue," and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner."

He was acclaimed behind the camera, too. He directed nine movies.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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