If there’s one thing we know about the Disney Channel, it’s that it has the ability to turn unknown young actors into household names. The Mouse House has turned the likes of Hilary Duff, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, and Demi Lovato into young women with life-long fan bases thanks to tween programming that allowed their audience to grow up with them.
The Disney Channel is also known for casting a lot of the same actors across shows and original movies on its network – but it doesn’t always place the same Disney actors in multiple parts. Just like any other network, the Disney Channel holds auditions and has actors from outside the network come in to get a fresh shot, especially in the case of developing new programing.
There are plenty of up and coming actors who came up just short of becoming leads in Disney Channel series. The most well known at this point is probably Taylor Momsen, who was up for the role of Hannah Montana against Miley Cyrus. She isn’t the only one who almost wound up as a featured performer on the network though. We’ve got 16 Actors Who Were Almost Disney Channel Stars.
16. Lindsay Lohan
Before Hilary Duff became Lizzie McGuire, there were several actresses up for the part. One of them happened to be Lindsay Lohan – and this was long before the rumored feud between the two when they both dated Aaron Carter.
Lohan had already starred in The Parent Trap remake and was on Disney’s radar for other projects at the time the network was casting Lizzie McGuire. Lohan was one of the top picks for the part, but she was passed over in favor of Duff, who had a little bit less experience.
Of course, Lohan still had plenty of chances to work with Disney. She also did the movies Life Size and Get a Clue for the network before moving on to teen comedies.
15. Sara Paxton
Lohan wasn’t the only top contender that just missed out on being the Lizzie McGuire lead. Sara Paxton, who was also an up-and-comer at the time, was actually one of the top choices for the part.
Paxton ended up pursuing another project instead of Lizzie McGuire, but even she wasn’t done with the Disney Channel. She came back to the show as a guest star in a later episode as a classmate who ran for student body president. She was also the network’s pick when they recast their lead in the fourth Halloweentown movie.
Paxton went back and forth between TV and film just like Duff did in the early days of her career, though her biggest moment in the tween set was in Aquamarine as a mermaid, which she got to film in Australia, so she didn’t miss out much when it came to Disney Channel stardom.