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Sophie Turner first appeared as Jean Grey in the X-Men franchise when the critical disaster X-Men: Apocalypse hit the silver screen in 2016. While Sophie Turner – riding the waves of success associated with Game of Throneswas a hot pick for the movie, she may not have snagged the role based on merit, or acting chops alone.

Sophie Turner
Sophie Turner | Photo by Han Myung-Gu/WireImage

Using Sophie Turner’s personal statements, as well as compiled evidence concerning other actresses who were in the running to play Jean, this article will attempt to highlight exactly how Sophie Turner became Jean Grey. While relying on statements from the actress and evidence from credible sources, it’s important to remember that the conclusions drawn are still speculative.

Sophie Turner, Jean Grey, and social media Influence

Let’s begin with the Cosmic Book News article, citing Sophie Turner’s social media presence, as part of the actress’s casting decision. Sophie Turner, around the time of Apocalypse, stated, “I auditioned for a project and it was between me and another girl who is a far better actress than I am, far better, but I had the followers, so I got the job.”

Sophie Turner admitted to her social media following as part of the reason she landed the role over a seemingly more qualified performer. It is well known, as reported by Collider in 2014, that Elle Fanning and Chloë Grace Moretz were initially the two actresses eyed for the part.

While other actresses were in the running, Moretz and Fanning were at the top of casting directors’ lists, according to Collider. At this point, Sophie Turner was in the mix, but probably not yet outweighing these two other formidable contestants.

As the pool shrunk in size, it’s likely that those behind the film wanted to guarantee that one of its future leads would be able to build a great deal of hype, as well as promise box office success.

Picking an actor is as calculative as it is talent-based; Audrey Hepburn beat out Julie Andrews for the role of Eliza Dolittle in My Fair Lady in 1964, for Andrews was only a Broadway star at this point, and she could not guarantee the level of ticket sales Hepburn could. Today, Many actors and actresses are paid – as part of their contracts – to promote their films on social media.

Taking a look a the actresses’ current social media followings, Sophie Turner trumps Elle Fanning by over 10 million Instagram followers. However, Chloë Grace Moretz has nearly two million more Instagram followers than Turner and over half a million more Twitter followers. So, what happened?

Remember: 2015 is now nearly 5 years ago, and the actresses’ social media followings may have been slightly different. Chloë Grace Moretz, all those years ago, had yet to appear in Greta, The 5th Wave, or The Miseducation of Cameron Post. However, she had already starred in Kick-Ass, Carrie, If I Stay, and The Equalizer. So, for the sake of argument, let’s assume the social media followings were about the same. Revisiting Sophie Turner’s statement, she acknowledged that it was down to her and one other actress.

Jean Grey: Did Chloë Grace Moretz lose out to Elle Fanning, who lost out to Sophie Turner?

Warning: a few educated guesses on the way. If Sophie Turner and Chloë Grace Moretz’ social media followings were as close then ( or relatively as close) as they are now, it’s likely that the “far better actress” Turner is referring to is Elle Fanning.

Sophie Turner may have been a better actress, or a better match for Jean, than Chloë Grace Moretz (in the eyes of the casting directs) and – given their comparable social media following – may have wound up head-to-head with the “more talented” Elle Fanning.

Elle Fanning won the Young Hollywood Award for Actress of the Year and was nominated for a Saturn Award for her performance in Maleficent. She is a force to be reckoned with on-screen. However, though boasting some impressive acting chops and accolades at a ripe age, Fanning lacks the social media presence, and fame Game of Thrones has awarded Turner.

Based on Turner’s previous statement, the actresses involved, and the unfolding of events, it seems that Sophie Turner was the best combination of popularity and fit. Moretz was too much of the former, not enough of the latter, and Fanning was on the mark character-wise, but bad for the box office.