Ginnifer Goodwin Was Supposed to Play Anna in ‘Frozen’ Before Kristen Bell

Idina Menzel’s Elsa may get most of the attention in Frozen and its sequel, with the big showcase numbers “Let it Go” and ‘Into the Unknown.” Plus, she’s the one who has magic powers, so that gives her a leg up over her sister Anna. 

That said, Anna has a devoted following all her own. She’s primarily known for being adorkable, but she’s also steadfastly loyal. She has a goofy side, yet she’s willing to put it all on the line for her family and friends, including that snowman she wanted to build. Kristen Bell is beloved in the part. But she was not the first choice. 

Ginnifer Goodwin on the red carpet
Ginnifer Goodwin | Vincent Sandoval/Getty Images

Anna from ‘Frozen’ was initially a rabbit

Anna’s voice was almost that of Ginnifer Goodwin, an actress with plenty of Disney experience by proxy in playing Snow White on ABC’s Once Upon a Time for seven seasons. She even sang on the show late in its run, and she had longed to work for Disney in some way or another. She talked about her experiences with Justin Long on his podcast Life is Short

Goodwin had been part of the read-through on Frozen, when the filmmakers were casting for the right voices, but Disney moved on, although in some ways, Goodwin has not. “That one hurts. I did not get the call to keep going.” 

Maybe not right at that moment, but Disney called her back for the part of police officer Judy Hopps, and she watched the project evolve. The story was initially more about Jason Batman’s fox character Nick, and Judy Hopps was more of a sidekick.

Then Disney completely rewrote the script to make Judy the lead, and Goodwin changed her voice too. She had originally done a Holly Hunter-like voice, but the directors told her, “If we wanted Holly Hunter, we would have cast Holly Hunter.”.

What else has Ginnifer Goodwin (almost) done?

Goodwin has connections with three movies nominated for Oscars this year  In addition to the almost-connection with Frozen, she was also in Walk the Line, co-starring with Joaquin Phoenix (nominated this year for Joker), who was playing Johnny Cash. Goodwin played Cash’s first wife, Vivian. Walk the Line was directed by James Mangold, who also helmed one of this year’s other Best Picture nominees, Ford v. Ferrari. 

On the podcast, with Long, Goodwin talked about how she appeared at the Golden Globes the year that three nominated performances were roles she had passed on.

Goodwin did not specify which ones, but she said, “I didn’t see that these roles had in them what they did. It’s not like I would have presented the same kind of performance. But it was like three in one year, and those (awards) do make a difference … I was looking at the back of my now-manager’s head, and I was like, ‘I’ve got to call that guy tomorrow’ because I don’t make good choices.” 

Every actor has missed opportunities they regret, but Goodwin has still made a strong career with roles in Big Love, and He’s Just not That Into You, along with other Disney projects like  Tinkerbell and the Legend of the Neverbeast and Sofia the First

How would Anna be different with Ginnifer Goodwin’s voice? 

Bell has become so identified with the role by now, that it’s hard to imagine someone else playing her part. Bell is particularly known for her comedic skills, and while Goodwin certainly has those, her Anna might have been more of a headstrong type like Jasmine in Aladdin

Still, as Goodwin notes, one can drive themselves crazy thinking about what might have been. Ironically, Bell had also been a guest on Long’s podcast, and Bell had said in terms of her legacy, she simply wanted to leave the world a better place.

That made Goodwin reflect on the late Bill Paxton, her co-star in Big Love, and about how actors should support each other and not be toxic in such a competitive business. In the end, both Bell and Goodwin can claim victory – Frozen and Zootopia both won the Best Animated Film Oscar.