Celebs who missed their chance to be a Disney princess

Many kids all over the world dream of becoming princesses one day. Our obsession with royalty and being whisked away to a castle is in no small part fueled by Disney movies. The first Disney princess movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, premiered in 1937, so generations of boys and girls have grown up with the magic of Disney princesses. The magic may have been widespread, but very few of us who dreamed of being princesses actually became one.

While most of us probably had no real expectation of magically becoming Disney royalty, for some, the dream almost became a reality. Some of the biggest names in Hollywood have auditioned for the opportunity to portray a princess in a Disney film, only to have their hopes dashed. Contrary to what Disney led us to believe as kids, dreams don't always come true, and these celebs who missed their chance to be a Disney princess learned that the hard way.

Idina Menzel

Broadway superstar Idina Menzel tried to bring her talents to the big screen for Tangled by auditioning with the song "Blackbird" by the Beatles. She lost the role to Mandy Moore, but her audition was so memorable that it landed her another part a few years later.  "The casting director had saved my audition on her phone but I didn't know she recorded it," she told Wenn (via Contactmusic.com). "She's sort of a fan and she was always waiting for the right thing."

The role that turned out to be the "right thing" was starring as Elsa in Frozen opposite Kristen Bell, who played her sister Anna. The casting director was able to use that phone recording to prove that Menzel was perfect for the part. Considering that we've all had "Let It Go" stuck in our heads for the past few years, the role definitely went to the right actress. Menzel gave Elsa powerhouse pipes like no one else could.

Megan Mullally

You probably know Megan Mullally best from her role on the comedy Will & Grace, but the actress also has some incredible singing chops. Josh Gad, who voiced Olaf the snowman in Frozen, revealed that the original concept of the movie was quite a bit different from the film that ended up hitting theaters. "I was originally involved in the project when it was a 2D effort and it was called Anna and the Snow Queen," Gad told MSN. "Completely different. Megan Mullally was playing Elsa and it wasn't really about sisterhood at all. I think it had more to do with the source material of Hans Christian Andersen's story."

While Mullally would have been a great Elsa, we're glad that the story was adapted the way it was. The Snow Queen in the original Hans Christian Andersen story is a cruel character, definitely a far cry from the Elsa of Frozen.

Natalie Portman

While some might think that because Disney now owns the Star Wars franchise, this means that Natalie Portman's portrayal of Queen Amidala technically sort of makes her a Disney princess. But, let's be real, it's not the same thing. She almost had her chance at taking on an official Disney princess role, though, in Tangled

One of the film's animators, Clay Kaytis, told The Daily Mail that Portman was considered for the part of Rapunzel because they wanted someone with "unexpected, quirky qualities to shake up expectations of what a princess should be" rather than someone who would portray Rapunzel as "princessy and aloof." It's a role that we can easily picture Portman in, but it just wasn't meant to be. Instead of playing a princess, fans got to see her portray Nina Sayers and The Swan Queen in Black Swan the same year Tangled was released, a role which won her an Oscar.

Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon reportedly lost her chance to be a Disney princess not just once, but twice. There are rumors that she was briefly attached to a Disney project called Rapunzel: Unbraided, which she was supposed to both executive produce and star in as Rapunzel. The project was ultimately scrapped and became Tangled a few years later. Witherspoon then became one of the actresses considered for the lead role of Rapunzel in that film but she didn't land the part.

Witherspoon was also the actress initially cast as the Scottish princess Merida in Brave, but she ended up walking away from the role for a pretty solid reason. "Accents aren't my thing," she said on Lorraine (via Marie Claire). "It was bad, I had to quit the movie." Kelly McDonald ended up replacing Witherspoon in the film. Since McDonald is actually Scottish, she was a perfect fit.  

Jodi Benson

Technically, Jodi Benson didn't completely miss out on her chance to portray a Disney princess. She did get to voice Ariel in The Little Mermaid in 1989. She did so well in the iconic role that she was the first choice a couple years later to play Belle in Beauty and the Beast. In the end, however, Benson's voice was considered to be too young to play the part of Belle. The film makers decided to award the role to Paige O'Hara, a seasoned Broadway performer whose classically-trained voice provided the more mature edge they wanted for the beloved bookworm.

While Benson didn't get to play Belle in the movie, it wasn't all bad news for the actress. She did have another opportunity to voice the character a few years later. Benson provided the voice for both Belle and Ariel in the Disney children's show House of Mouse from 2001 to 2002.

Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston wasn't just an incredibly gifted singer, but also a talented actress. Nineties kids remember her for playing the fairy godmother in the made-for-TV movie adaptation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Cinderella musical in 1997. The musical had originally debuted on TV in 1957, starring Julie Andrews. It was remade a decade later with Lesley Ann Warren in the title role. It was already a classic when Whitney Houston dreamed of remaking the film in the 90s, this time with a multi-racial cast.

The film was originally supposed to be made in 1993 with Houston in the title role, but by the time the movie was ready to go into production, Houston felt she had aged too much to play the part. She decided to play the godmother instead, casting singer and TV star Brandy Norwood as Cinderella.

The film's diverse casting approach was groundbreaking, and Norwood became Disney's first African-American princess. Her prince was Filipino (Paolo Montalban) with a white father (Victor Garber) and an African-American mother (Whoopi Goldberg). "And it didn't look unrealistic with the multicultural casting — I bought it," Norwood told Shondaland. "You could just see the threads of love between everyone holding it together."

Alicia Keys

Brandy Norwood may have broken a barrier when she became Disney's first African-American princess in 1997, but it would be more than a decade before there was another one. Disney made Tiana, the protagonist of The Princess in the Frog, their first animated African-American princess. Many actresses vied for the role including Beyoncé, who reportedly expected to be offered the part based on her star power and refused to audition. Alicia Keys, in contrast, wanted the role so badly that she auditioned for the film three times, but didn't make the cut. The part eventually ended up going to Aniki Noni Rose.

Keys might have wanted to be Tiana, but she's not the biggest fan of Disney (or at least of Disney's older films). "I get real funky about the classics; I don't like my sons watching [Snow White]," she told Net-A-Porter. "It's totally sexist and misogynistic — she's cleaning for seven dwarfs. There's nothing wrong with a woman who chooses to stay at home with her family… but it's the way it's spoken about."

Margot Robbie

In 2015, Cinderella became the first Disney animated classic to receive the live-action treatment. It's no surprise that actresses lined up for the chance to not simply provide the voice for a princess but to actually perform the part. While Lily James, who won the role, did in an incredible job in the film, she wasn't the only major contender for the part. Margot Robbie was also one of the actresses who was seriously considered for the part of the princess.

Robbie may have lost the part, but that just freed her up to star in some other huge projects. Instead of becoming a princess, she was cast as comic book super villain Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, a role that she is set to reprise in several upcoming projects. Losing the part of Cinderella was no doubt a disappointing blow to the actress, but it looks like things worked out for the best!

Deanna Durbin

Fans of old Hollywood films will recognize the name Deanna Durbin. A contemporary of Shirley Temple, Durbin was one of the biggest stars of the 1930s and 1940s. Blessed with an incredibly mature singing voice from a young age, Durbin was just a teenager when she became one of MGM's biggest money earners and helped bring the studio back from the brink of financial ruin. She seemed like a shoo-in for the role of Snow White, the first-ever Disney princess, but lost the role to Adriana Caselotti.

At least Durbin was spared Caselotti's fate. Caselotti was paid just $970 for her role in the movie, and was not invited to the film's premiere. Walt Disney, believing that people knowing the names of the voice actors would spoil the fantasy of the film, did not even give her credit for the role. In order to keep the identity of Snow White a secret, he blacklisted her and Caselotti did not land another role for years. What should have been her big break turned out to be anything but a fairy tale.

Lea Salonga

Lea Salonga never quite became a full Disney princess. Let us explain. She provided the singing voice for Princess Jasmine in the 1992 film Aladdin and, to this day, "A Whole New World" remains one of her most beloved songs. When it came to cast 1998's Mulan, Salonga seemed like the perfect fit. "I thought, 'Why do I have to audition?' she joked to UPI. "I was already a princess before. Wasn't that enough?"

Salonga ended up landing the role… sort of. Again, she was cast as the singing voice of the princess. Unfortunately, her voice was deemed to be too high to convincingly pass as male when Mulan pretends to be a man in order to take her father's place in the army. Ming-Na Wen ended up voicing Mulan in the film and its sequel. Wen didn't mind that someone else was cast to provide Mulan's singing voice. "I don't blame them," she told Groucho Reviews.