Even the most acclaimed sitcoms have been known to recast side characters and Frasier is no stranger to this pattern, but the show needed to recast Frasier Crane's ex-wife Nanny G. twice. The Oscar-awarded actress Emma Thompson first took up the part of the eccentric children's entertainer in 1992 on the series Cheers before the role went to two more actresses. According to one of Frasier's screenwriters, the double recast was necessary for scheduling trouble, but there are likely more reasons why the switches were necessary.


Nanny G. is portrayed by three separate actresses throughout Cheers and its spinoff series Frasier. In order of appearance, she is played by Emma Thompson, Dina Spybey-Waters, and Laurie Metcalf. Guzman is introduced in Cheers season 10, episode 16 "One Hugs, the Other Doesn't" as radio host Frasier Crane's first wife whom he married when they were both twenty. On Cheers, Frasier is remarried to Lilith Sternin who is shown to be unaware of this prior marriage and ends up attacking Nanny in a fit of jealous rage. Years after splitting up with Frasier, Nanette took on the silly entertainer's persona of Nanny G. who she dons again upon the character's second recast in Frasier season 11. Nanette also cameos in a flashback in Frasier season 9, which offers insight into the hippie attitude she and Frasier used to share when they were married years prior.

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Nanette Guzman's first recast in Frasier season 9, episode 2 "Don Juan in Hell: Part 2." The episode leads up to an intense dream sequence where an overwrought Frasier Crane is confronted by every woman he has ever been in a relationship with. Diana Spybey-Waters replaces Emma Thompson as Nanette but is shown in her hippie attire rather than her childishly colorful performance suit. This casting was a better choice for the episode since her cameo is too short to justify asking Emma Thompson to return. Spybey-Waters is also meant to represent the much younger version of Nanette that Frasier fell for, and not the children's entertainer Thompson's matured portrayal is showcased to be. However, the time came for Nanette to return to Frasier in season 11, and this time The Conners' Laurie Metcalf stepped up to star in the episode where she and Frasier rekindle their romance. The choice to recast Nanny G. for a second time was primarily made because Emma Thompson was unavailable, yet the decision ends up working in the spinoff's favor.

Why Laurie Metcalf Was Recast As Nanny G In Frasier's Final Season

Laurie Metcalf in Frasier
Laurie Metcalf playing Frasier's ex-wife Nanette Guzman in Frasier. 

Emma Thompson's schedule was reportedly too busy for her to return according to the blog of one of Frasier's many screenwriters, Ken Levine. He was asked if an attempt was made to call Thompson back for the Nanny-centric episode in Frasier season 11. Levine confirmed, "Yes. Ms. Thompson was unavailable" (via By Ken Levine). Along with Ken Levine, the creators of Frasier considered Laurie Metcalf to be one of the few actresses who could successfully replace Thompson as Nanny G. Her chemistry with Frasier Crane in season 11 is just as volatile and sexually charged as their characters' dynamic is on Cheers. Metcalf brings a newfound dominant streak to Nanny G. which shows that while the casting choice was made out of necessity, her committed performance outweighs any continuity downfalls the decision could have created.

While most sitcoms endeavor to avoid recasting characters for the sake of continuity, the overall quality of Frasier is never damaged by the various performances of Nanette Guzman. Starting from Emma Thompson's outstanding portrayal, each actress brought something new to the role of Nanny G. while also retaining the eccentric spirit that made her so idiosyncratic. Frasier may have recast Nanny G. twice, but it was the right decision artistically and practically.