From Pinocchio and Cinderella to The Little Mermaid and Brave, wish fulfillment has always been an integral part of the Walt Disney Pictures brand. In fact, the first song ever sung by a Disney character was "I'm Wishing," a classic track from the soundtrack of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. With that in mind, it's not blasphemy to imagine other actors and actresses in roles from your favorite Disney films. Rather, it's a perfect expression of the Disney ethos.
Over the years, members of the intense Disney fandom have wished that different stars had the chance to take roles from the most beloved film studio on earth. To keep things grounded (despite the fact that this is a list which mostly covers fantasy films), we are only discussing alternative casting decisions, specifically alternative castings that involve actors who were alive and active in the industry when the relevant films were made; in other words, this list won't discuss the impossible hypothetical of Jennifer Lawrence or Lena Dunham getting roles in the 1955 film Lady and the Tramp. And no, imagining another actor in a role does not mean that the actor who actually got the role did an unsatisfactory job with it.
Let's count down 25 Disney Fan Castings That Are Better Than What We Got.
20 Beyoncé As Tiana In The Princess And The Frog
When Disney announced that its upcoming film, The Princess and the Frog would star the first African-American Disney princess, numerous entertainers wanted the part, including Alicia Keyes, Jennifer Hudson, Tyra Banks and Beyoncé Knowles. Beyoncé was so confident that she was suited to the part that she declined to audition for it, feeling that Disney should hand her the role without her having to prove her acting chops.
The part, ultimately went to Beyoncé's Dreamgirls co-star, Anika Noni Rose, and while Rose garnered critical acclaim for her performance, that hasn't stopped fans from wishing that this princess was voiced by a queen.
19 Joan Crawford As The Queen In Alice In Wonderland
The Queen of Hearts may not be the most evil Disney villain but she's definitely one of the least likable, given how she acts more like a petulant child than a malevolent adult. If there was one actress from the 1950's who definitely could have sunk their teeth into the role, it was Joan Crawford, who would hilariously and terrifyingly play a similar role several years later in What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?
18 John Legend As Lando in Solo: A Star Wars Story
Like the film as a whole, Donald Glover's performance in Solo: A Star Wars Story earned mixed responses. Some found Glover charismatic and invigorating while others felt that he was simply doing a subpar Billy Dee Williams impression. Some fans felt that the role would have been more suited for another chart-topping musician turned actor: John Legend.
By the time Solo was filmed, Legend had already proven himself to be a capable actor with his role in the Oscar-winning musical La La Land. If anyone could have captured Lando's effortless charm, it was the soul maestro of our generation.
17 Lindsay Lohan As Gabriella in High School Musical
The year is 2005. Who's a talented actress and singer with a track record for ranking in cash for the Walt Disney Company? With her past in mind, Lindsay Lohan would have been a pitch perfect choice for the leading lady of the High School Musical franchise. It's such fitting casting that one wonders why it didn't happen. Perhaps, having starred in high-profile films like Mean Girls, Lohan felt that she was too prominent to star in a TV movie. Perhaps she felt she was already too closely identified with Disney. Or perhaps her image had become too adult for family films.
Regardless, Lohan missed a great opportunity.
16 Jessica Brown Findlay As Belle in Beauty and the Beast
Ask any hardcore Disney fan about their opinion of 2017's Beauty and the Beast and they won't have many nice things to say. Audiences and critics felt that Emma Watson's performance as Belle was awkward and her singing wasn't going to earn her any compliments from Simon Cowell. The Internet decided that Jessica Brown Findlay, a British actress known for her role in the popular soap opera Downtown Abbey, would have been a superior Belle.
At the very least, her star power wouldn't have distracted from the role the way that Emma Watson's did after years of playing Hermione and being an outspoken activist.
15 Emma Watson As Marnie In The Halloweentown Franchise
Emma Watson is very talented and can be quite good in the right role, and Hermione Granger was the right role. With that in mind, it's obvious that Watson would have been a great choice to play Marnie in the Halloweentown franchise. The Halloweentown movies took increasingly significant inspiration from Harry Potter, to the point where the final film in the series, Return to Halloweentown, takes place at an ancient school for witchcraft and wizardry.
Marnie had Hermione's problem solving skills and commitment to social justice, so Watson would have been ideal to play her, if she weren't preoccupied with another film franchise.
14 Taylor Kitsch As The Beast In Beauty And The Beast
Dan Stevens' performance in the live action version of Beauty and the Beast was devoid of the charm and warmth necessary to overcome the unappetizing special effects used to bring the character to life. Taylor Kitsch would have been a superior choice for the role - he has the necessary commanding voice, the right physicality, and has a history of acting well in front of a green screen.
Disney may have decided not to hire Kitsch again following the box-office failure of the one Disney film starring Kitsch - the infamous John Carter.
13 Joe Manganiello As Gaston In Beauty And The Beast
And here's the last time that this list will criticize the Beauty and the Beast remake, one of the greatest cinematic abominations that Disney released during the 2010s. Luke Evans gave one of the better performances in the film, but he lacked the physicality of the original Gaston, and his voice wasn't adequately deep to portray the beloved Disney villain.
Joe Manganiello who portrayed Alcide Herveaux on the popular HBO series True Blood, might have done a better job with the role, though even a Gaston of the highest caliber couldn't have covered the script's deficiencies.
12 Cher As Mother Gothel In Tangled
The villainess from "Rapunzel" has nothing in the way of motivations or personality so the writers at Disney had carte blanche to do whatever they wanted with the character. They took an interesting route with Mother Gothel, making her an aging diva who hopes to live forever and has a penchant for singing 1940's style show tunes.
One of the biggest inspirations for her appearance was Cher. Given that Cher is an Oscar winning actress who has a sense of humor about her age, she would have done audiences a solid by adding "Disney villainess" to her long list of show biz credentials but, alas, it was not to be.
11 Charlize Theron As The Wicked Witch Of The West In Oz The Great And Powerful
The belated prequel, Oz the Great and Powerful, received middling reviews but critics could agree on one thing: Mila Kunis was awful. Her melodramatic performance as the Wicked Witch of the West was characterized by inexplicable, incessant shrieking. She did no justice to Margaret Hamilton's performance as one of the greatest of all film villains.
Charlize Theron was far less grating when she played a fairy tale witch in Snow White and the Huntsman. That film, which was not made by Disney, certainly helped inspire the trend of Disney live action remakes. That broom would have been better off in Theron's hands.
10 Rachel McAdams As Sharpay In High School Musical
High School Musical would have been funnier and more dramatic if it was a Mean Girls reunion co-starring Lindsay Lohan and Rachel McAdams, as would most movies. Ashley Tisdale comes across as too sweet for what the role demands, so Rachel McAdams would have been more suited to the part; after all, has any actress embodied the mean girl stereotype as well as McAdams?
9 Gary Oldman As Ramsey In The Haunted Mansion
While the family horror comedy (how many of those are there?) The Haunted Mansion isn't scary or funny, it does have a wonderfully Gothic atmosphere that few films have had since the heyday of Universal horror, and some of that atmosphere comes from the film's villain Ramsey, the ultimate "the butler did it" character.
If there was one actor who really could have sunk their teeth (pun intended) into this role, it was one of Hollywood's premiere villains, Gary Oldman. Even it the rest of the film was subpar Oldman would have made it watchable.
8 Tim Curry As Scar In The Lion King
It goes without saying that The Lion King is one of Disney's greatest animated masterpieces. It does not need to be changed in any way. However, it would be interesting to watch a cut of the film where Scar is voiced by one of the actors who was in the running to play him - the inimitable Tim Curry.
There's a decent chance that Curry would have been too over the top in the role, but there's also a chance that he would have given the world the best Disney villain performance ever.
7 Emma Thompson As Jane In Tarzan
When Disney has pre-existing adapted female characters to the screen in the past thirty years, they often try to infuse them with a modern feminist sensitivity (think Esmeralda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame or Elsa in Frozen). Jane in Tarzan, however, is a gal from the Victorian era who acts like a stereotypical gal from the Victorian era. Thus, Emma Thompson, the undisputed queen of the British period piece, would have been a superb Jane.
Thompson would eventually get starring roles in the Disney films Brave and Saving Mr. Banks and knocked it out of the park.
6 Chris Pratt As Oscar In Oz The Great And Powerful
James Franco is many things as an actor and as an artist, but an everyman is not one of them. Chris Pratt isn't an everyman either - he's a bit too muscular - but he's proven himself to be good and playing good and relatable ne'erdowells in Parks and Recreation and the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, so he would have had made Oscar Diggs a more believable protagonist.
Franco, for all of his talent, didn't seem invested in starring in a mainstream special effects movie and played the role with obvious detachment that detached audiences from the film.
5 Barbra Streisand As Ursula In The Little Mermaid
Ursula The Sea Witch is a gal trying for a comeback who loves feuds and drama and has an extremely emotive and powerful singing voice. In other words, she has more in common with Barbra Streisand than you might think. If Streisand had played Ursula, she finally would have achieved the cinematic immortality that she's long craved. However, The Little Mermaid was made at a time when the Walt Disney Company was in financial dire straits, so they wouldn't have been able to afford a name actress for the film.
4 Audrey Hepburn As Aurora In Sleeping Beauty
Aurora is elegant, and sweet, and the sound of her voice is soothing. The inspiration for her design was that of Hollywood legend, Audrey Hepburn. It would have been wonderful for Hepburn to actually play the role. While The Little Mermaid was made during a period when the Walt Disney Company was struggling and couldn't afford major stars, Sleeping Beauty was made during one of the studio's peak periods. Hepburn's casting would have been a dream come true.
3 Emma Stone As Anna In Frozen
While Queen Elsa is the feminist ice queen that millions of women wish they could be, her sister Anna is the bubbly girl next door who just happens to be a princess. In following Jennifer Lawrence's and Taylor Switft's transformations from small town girls who made it big to established industry goddesses, Emma Stone occupies a place as Hollywood's girl next door, so she would have been a perfectly obvious choice to play Anna.
She has the warmth, the enthusiasm, and the singing ability, but she was apparently too busy starring in The Amazing Spider Man 2.
2 Saoirse Ronan As Aurora In Maleficient
Elle Fanning was perfectly serviceable as the most tried of Disney princesses in Maleficient but she didn't make much of an impression. That could have been the result of the film's script - Aurora gets less screen time than Maleficient - but it could also have been because Angelina Jolie is simply a more seasoned actress than Fanning.
Saoirse Conan is almost the same age as Fanning but has more of a history of holding her own against seasoned veterans. Ronan has also shown herself adept at playing women from earlier eras through her roles in Atonement and The Crucible.
1 Amanda Seyfried As Rapunzel In Tangled
When Tangled was released on an unsuspecting public, it garnered the warmest reviews and warmest box office reception of any Disney film since the 1990's and helped usher in an era of unprecedented success for the company. Despite the overall positive response to the film, some critics felt that pop singer Mandy Moore was too self-consciously precious in the lead role.
Those critics may have enjoyed the movie more if Amanda Seyfried, an actress who manages to come across as quirky and naturalistic at the same time, let her hair down for Flynn Rider instead.