Actors Who Refused Disney Princess Roles

The opportunity to potentially play a Disney Princess is a life- and career-changing prospect for any actress, and it's almost guaranteed to catapult someone to fame. It's not surprising that not only are there plenty of people clamoring to be cast in these iconic roles, but even getting the chance to audition is probably on the bucket list for more stars than you might expect. While there are a ton of big names that haven't been offered a princess part, there are actually some actresses who won — or were offered — the role ... and then turned it down. These actresses did what many people would deem unthinkable — they refused Disney princess roles

Emma Watson

Emma Watson made headlines when she put on the iconic yellow ball gown of Belle for the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast, sending ripples of excitement across the internet for the long-awaited movie. But that wasn't the first time Watson has been involved with Disney. She was also one of the lead contenders to play Cinderella in its live-action remake.

Cinderella, which went through a massive amount of growing pains as actors and directors came and went, and finding the right gal to don the glass slipper was among its challenges. Variety reported that Watson was one of a few front-runners, along with Saoirse Ronan, Gabriella Wilde, and Alicia Vikander. The role eventually went to Lily James, but that apparently wasn't until after Watson turned it down. That news emerged via Variety's Marc Graser, who tweeted: "Emma Watson has decided NOT to star in Disney's CINDERELLA." What he didn't give was a reason. MTV noted that a change in directors (from Mark Romanek to Kenneth Branaugh) significantly shifted the feel of the film. What was initially billed as a rather dark version of the fairy tale supposedly became more candy-coated. Perhaps that's why Watson walked away. That's only speculation, of course, but Watson's masterful performance in Beauty and the Beast has made most folks forget she shunned Cinderella. 

Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz hit it big as the pint-sized but foul-mouthed superhero Hit-Girl in 2010's Kick-Ass. That might make her seem like an unlikely choice for a Disney Princess, but in 2015, Variety announced she had signed on to play Ariel in a live-action version of The Little Mermaid. At the time, there wasn't much information about just what the movie was going to look like, but rumors circulated that director Sofia Coppola left the project because Moretz was involved and Coppola wasn't thrilled about it. That was in November 2015, but in September 2016, Moretz announced she had split from all the projects she was currently attached to — and that included The Little Mermaid.

Moretz told The Hollywood Reporter that she was starting to forget why she started acting in the first place and wanted to take a step back to regain her focus. "So I pulled the plug on all my movies because I want to reassess who I am and find myself within my roles again," she said. "I'm realizing that I can slow down."

Elle Fanning

The road from conception to the big screen has been a rocky one for The Little Mermaid, and Chloe Moretz isn't the only actress to turn down the role of the world's most famous mermaid. Before Moretz was connected to the film, The Wrap reported that Elle Fanning had turned down the big-name project. Details about just what went down behind the scenes are sketchy, but it may be that Fanning decided she would rather take on the mantle of another Disney Princess: Aurora (aka Sleeping Beauty), co-starring opposite Angelina Jolie in Maleficent.

The latter is an experience Fanning certainly doesn't regret. She told Collider that she treasured the relationship she had with Jolie both off-screen and in the film. "People see that intensity that [Jolie] has in photographs and on red carpets, and that force around her, but then you meet her and she's just a girl," Fanning said. Their characters also redefined expectations. "Maleficent and Sleeping Beuaty aren't supposed to talk to each other. They're enemies. But the way it turned out, it's a fresh take on it. For the modern world, we need to have a modern story, and it is." 

Kristen Stewart

Technically, Kristen Stewart did play a Disney Princess: Snow White, in the tolerably received Snow White and the Huntsman, but the actress said she turned down the option to reprise the role in the sequel. According to Stewart's interview with Variety, she met with the studio to read a few early scripts for the sequel, which was crafted as an origin story. "None of them were good," she said. "None of them were greenlight-able. And I had a meeting with Universal about the places where the story could go. Maybe Chris [Hemsworth] was more into it. I actually don't f**king know." Needless to say, Stewart was not included as a main character in the sequel. In fact, she said she found out about it via a press release. The studio reportedly did ask her to make a brief appearance with a cameo, but she declined.

In her interview with Variety, Stewart also insisted that her affair with Snow White and the Huntsman Director Rupert Sanders, who was married at the time, did not factor into her future prospects as Snow White. "It wasn't a situation where I got kicked off a movie because I got in trouble," she said. For what it's worth, Sanders didn't return for the sequel either. 

Shiloh Jolie-Pitt

Maleficent stars Angelina Jolie as the title character, but there's also a little, blonde-haired girl who plays a young Aurora. The girl in the film is Jolie's daughter, Vivienne, but she wasn't the one that was first asked to play the child version of the Disney Princess. According to Jolie, she initially approached her older daughter, Shiloh, about the part but "she laughed in my face," the Oscar-winning actress told E! Online. "She said she'd be a horned creature." 

Though this may feel like a funny conundrum, Jolie told Entertainment Weekly that she and then-husband Brad Pitt take the experiences of young children on set very seriously. "We think it's fun for our kids to have cameos and join us on set, but not to be actors," she said. "That's not our goal for Brad and I at all. But the other 3- and 4-year-old [performers] wouldn't come near me. It had to be a child that liked me and wasn't afraid of my horns and my eyes and my claws. So it had to be Viv."


Beyonce may not have officially turned down the part of Tiana, the star of Disney's The Princess and the Frog, but one could argue that she certainly disregarded the opportunity by not auditioning, even though she was supposedly the top pick for the part. According to a behind-the-scenes book called Confessions of a Casting Director, Beyonce was originally the frontrunner to play Tiana, but in order to be formally considered for the role, the book's author, Jen Rudin, wanted actors to audition. That sounds reasonable, right?

Many did; some more than once, but according to Rudin, Beyonce did not try out. The role eventually went to Anika Noni Rose, one of Queen Bey's costars from Dreamgirls. "Beyonce expected an offer, but wouldn't audition and so she didn't get one," Rudin told Page Six. Mic drop.

Reese Witherspoon

The journey to bring Scottish Princess Merida to the big screen was one that was filled with challenges, including director changes, casting shakeups, and even a disagreement on what the film's title should be. In the end, Brave featured Kelly Macdonald as the voice of Merida, but the Scottish star reportedly landed the role only after Reese Witherspoon backed out. Producer Katherine Sarafian talked to /Film about the casting change, defending why she'd initially cast an American to play the part. Sarafian said the character was "less about being Scottish and more about being a willful teenager and Reese really knows how to play willful teenagers. She's got that great youthful quality and when you think about her body of work, you could probably think of, 'Oh, actually I can see it.'" The director noted that Witherspoon had worked with a dialect and accent coach, but scheduling conflicts prompted her to turn down the part.

That might not be the end of the story, though. During a January 2017 interview on a morning news show, Witherspoon appeared to inadvertently blow the lid off that supposed scheduling conflict. Witherspoon was talking about difficult accents with fellow actor Matthew McConaughey when she admitted: "I tried to do a Scottish accent once. It was bad. I had to quit the movie." Witherspoon didn't confirm that said movie was, in fact, Brave, so we'll leave it up to you to decide if she's referring to her temporary involvement in some other piece of Scottish-themed cinema.