In the rare event that you somehow missed it, 13 Reasons Why has made its return with Season 2, and if you’re anything like us, you were completely hooked from the second you sat down on the couch to binge all 13 episodes. Now that we’ve successfully watched both the first and second seasons, though, one of the things that struck us most was how well each role was cast. What you may not know, however, is that some of the actors on the series actually didn’t audition for the role they ultimately wound up playing.
That’s right! Many of the talented actors you see on 13 Reasons Why actually tried out for a different character. And while that happened on more than a few occasions when it came to casting the show, there are a bunch of other 13RW casting secrets you need to know about, like, NOW! Check ’em out by clicking through this gallery, and prepare to be shook.
Selena Gomez was originally going to play Hannah.
When word got out about an on-screen adaptation of 13 Reasons Why, the “Kill ’em with Kindness” singer was actually attached as the star.
“I see myself as Hannah so much,” Selena told The Hollywood Reporter. “I wanted it to feel like anyone can see themselves in this.”
So, why didn’t we see her as Hannah Baker instead of Katherine Langford? After all, that was the original plan, back in 2011. “A book is frightening for me because I know the cult following it has,” SG explained, “which is the reason why I didn’t want to be in it.”
Katherine Langford auditioned for more roles than just Hannah.
Newcomer Katherine knocked it out of the park in her first big role, drawing people in with her troubled-yet-relatable portrayal of the series’ protagonist. But did you know Hannah wasn’t the only one on Kat’s mind?
When the audition for 13 Reasons Why came her way, the 20-year-old Aussie actress read for the role of Hannah, as well as the role of Hannah’s former best friend, Jessica Davis. However, her feelings leaned a bit more toward Hannah because the character “goes through so many things that I feel like all of us have felt. In that way, I find her really personable.”
And everything worked out: Kat nailed the part of Hannah, and fellow newbie Alisha Boe nailed the part of Jessica.
Christian Navarro was rejected for the role of Tony several times.
You can thank one of Christian’s real-life best friends slash former schoolmate Brandon Flynn (a.k.a. Justin Foley) for introducing Christian to 13RW.
According to CN, “I asked [Brandon] if he was auditioning for 13 Reasons Why and I didn’t know anything about the show or the book.” And Brandon, of course, did audition.
But it wasn’t easy for Christian to snag the role of Hannah’s confidant, Tony. “I asked to audition for it and was told no three or four times because I was too old,” he explained. (FYI, he’s 25.) “So I kind of put in on the back-burner, but through the grace of the acting gods, they couldn’t find the actor for the role on the West Coast, so they opened up auditions in New York, where I live.”
“I went in and I met one of the directors, Tom McCarthy, I auditioned with a really difficult piece from the 7th or 8th episode, and I got lucky,” he said. “After I met the team, I knew immediately that this was all something very special.”
“It also happened very fast,” he added. “On a Thursday, they called me saying I got the job, on Friday I was California and on Monday morning we were filming.”
Christian Navarro’s girlfriend also auditioned.
During the same interview, in which he revealed his troubles at the beginning of the audition process, Christian also revealed that his then-girlfriend tried out for the series.
“My girlfriend at the time was also auditioning for the show,” he explained, “and I was interested in the show and what [she and Brandon] told me about it. It seemed like an interesting project.”
Devin Druid didn’t originally want to play Tyler.
While Devin perfectly portrayed the geeky, stalkerish Tyler Down on the Netflix program, that wasn’t his OG plan.
“My first audition, I actually taped for Clay,” he revealed to HollywoodLife. “It was really cool. I loved the script and the people attached. I knew I had to be a part of this, so I taped for Clay. I thought I did a pretty good job.”
“A little bit later, I got called back up to come in to the New York casting office to meet director Tom McCarthy and our writers,” he added. “I auditioned for Clay in front of them again, and then afterwards they called me in for Tyler.”
I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t really know too much about this character, but let me find out about it,” he explained. “I didn’t read the book before auditioning because I’ve auditioned for a number of projects that are adapted into film, and I have read the source material for those other auditions, and what I’ve learned from that is sometimes you can get confused in your own headspace about which version of the character you’re supposed to be portraying.”
“I have an acting coach out of Richmond that I work with a lot and I worked with him on this audition for Tyler and one of the scenes with Tyler is the dark room scene with Clay,” Devin said. “I remember very vividly that Mark [his acting coach] basically told me to bring everything from my life that I have to this character.”
Ross Butler is changing up the audition game for Asians.
Ross (a.k.a. Zach Dempsey) is breaking down barriers, left and right. Not only is he an Asian-American actor playing a jock — a role not typically filled by Asians — on 13 Reasons Why, he did the same on Teen Wolf, and is currently doing the same on Riverdale.
“When I was a kid, there wasn’t an Asian-American Ryan Gosling, or an Asian-American Robert Downey Jr. that you would look up to,” he told Refinery29. “Now [on Riverdale], I play kind of a jerky football player, and on 13 Reasons Why I play a nice basketball player who does a bad thing, and on Teen Wolf I played a lacrosse player.”
“Asians can be athletic,” he explained, “we don’t have to fit into this image that [the media] has for [us]. Booking these roles that aren’t necessarily [for Asian actors] is something I’m proud of and, hopefully, will keep doing.”
Bryce’s description is what made Justin Prentice want to audition.
Bryce is Reason #12 of the 13 reasons why Hannah decides to kill herself. (SPOILER ALERT: He raped her.) Yet that didn’t stop Justin Prentice from wanting to portray the awful character.
What really struck Justin was the description of Bryce: Frat Boy Darth Vader. “That was actually in the original breakdown for the auditions,” he said. “That was part of the description, ‘Frat Boy Darth Vader.’ I was like, ‘I have to be this character!”
“What I think the show did a great job of is, none of the characters are one-sided,” Justin added. “There are many facets to all of them, so Bryce has, you know, even though he’s a bit of the ‘d*****bag,’ some might label him as, he still takes care of his buddies a lot of the time, you know? He still looks out for those close to him and whatnot. That doesn’t necessarily redeem him, I guess, with what happens in the story, but I guess that’s up to everyone else.”
Brandon Larracuente was the perfect Jeff Atkins… but that wasn’t his original plan.
We all agree that Jeff Atkins, may he rest in peace, deserved better. BUT, did you know that Brandon Larracuente tried out for another part in the production? Two words: Justin. Foley.
Alisha Boe originally auditioned for the role of Hannah
Considering Hannah Baker is such an interesting and intricate character, it should come as no surprise that tons of people wanted to play her on the series… including Alisha Boe. As we all know, Alisha plays the role of Jessica, but that wasn’t what she originally intended when she first auditioned.
In an interview with W, Alisha recalled being shocked because she didn’t think she fit the role. She told the mag, “When they asked me to audition for Jessica, I disconnected with it. She’s supposed to be a pretty, popular teenager, and in my head, just from being brainwashed from all these breakdowns growing up, it’s a blonde girl with blue eyes.” Alas, it seems she was just what the casting directors were looking for because she did, in fact, book the role.
Brandon Butler originally auditioned for the role of Alex Standall.
These days, we know Brandon Butler as the actor who plays Bryce Walker’s friend and teammate on the series, but actually, that’s not the role he went out for when he originally auditioned back in 2016. Shockingly, Brandon tried out for a very opposite role, which for the part of Alex Standall.
In an interview with Seventeen.com, “I actually first auditioned for the role of Alex when the show was in the auditioning process back in 2016. Ever since then I followed up on the show and watched all of season one on Netflix and became a fan of it myself. Then, the opportunity to audition for Scott came about and, long story short, I was able to book it.” Interesting!
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