27 Surprising Facts About "The West Wing" You Probably Didn't Know

    Hail to the chief.

    1. President Bartlet was initially only supposed to make occasional appearances in the show.

    2. Sidney Poitier was offered the role of president.

    3. Martin Sheen puts his jacket on like a boss because of an arm injury he suffered as a newborn.

    4. President Bartlet is meant to be a descendant of Josiah Bartlett, a real-life signer of the Declaration of Independence.

    5. The main set of The West Wing was so large it originally had to be split across two stages.

    6. The longest "walk and talk" the show ever did was three minutes long and involved close to 500 extras.

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    According to director of photography Tom Del Ruth, the scene, from the Season 1 episode "Five Votes Down," took half the night to shoot.

    7. Josh Lyman got his name from a character in Garry Trudeau's comic strip Doonesbury.

    8. C.J.'s "The Jackal" was inspired by Allison Janey's impromptu backstage lip-synching.

    9. Josh Malina was a big prankster when the cameras weren't running.

    10. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once accosted Sorkin when the crew was filming near her house.

    11. Leo McGarry’s story about Andrew Jackson having a big block of cheese is true.

    12. The Obama administration held a real Big Block of Cheese Day (albeit a virtual one).

    13. The West Wing is tied for the most Emmy wins ever for a drama series with 26.

    14. Josh was modeled after Rahm Emanuel, back when he was special adviser to the Clintons.

    "I think that if you played Rahm Emanuel like Rahm Emanuel actually is, I don’t think people would believe it," Bradley Witford told New York magazine. "I think people would think, Wow, I can’t believe somebody is actually like that."

    15. C.J. Cregg was inspired by Dee Dee Myers, Clinton's press secretary and consultant for The West Wing.

    Myers' husband was a White House correspondent much like C.J.'s eventual husband Danny Concannon.

    16. And Sam Seaborn was based on George Stephanopoulos.

    Stephanopoulos said his real role in the Clinton White House was more like Josh Lyman's, however.

    17. Donna was originally envisioned as a minor part, so actress Janel Moloney kept her job as a hostess at a Beverly Hills Italian restaurant through the first few episodes.

    18. Eugene Levy almost played Toby.

    19. Richard Schiff was very upset about what happened to Toby in the final season.

    20. Mrs. Landingham probably wouldn't have been killed off had actress Kathryn Joosten not casually mentioned to Aaron Sorkin that she was up for a role in another pilot.

    And that's how "Two Cathedrals" was born.

    21. The San Francisco General Assembly observed a moment of silence and adjourned in memory of Mrs. Landingham after the character's death in a car crash.

    22. The decorations in C.J.'s goldfish bowl changed frequently, and were usually sly references to the plot of the episode.

    23. A shot of President Bartlet in the opening credits has a stunning resemblance to a famous photo of John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    Kennedy was one of the main inspirations for Bartlet.

    24. The Huffington Post included a Bartlet vs. Richie model in its 2012 election forecast map.

    25. There were two versions of the live "Debate" episode — one for each coast — but only the West Coast version is available for viewing.

    26. Matt Santos was originally supposed to lose the presidential election to Arnold Vinick in the seventh season.

    27. Aaron Sorkin makes a cameo in the last episode, "Tomorrow."