Why Selena Gomez Wasn't Hannah Baker '13 Reasons Why'
"13 Reasons Why" is the latest Netflix series the whole world seems to be binge-watching. In case you haven't watched it yet, it follows the story of high schooler Hannah Baker — a girl who committed suicide and left 13 tapes behind, each detailing a different reason for her suicide.
The show has been lauded by critics and fans for its brutal portrayal of the reality of mental health. On the other side of criticism is a large following of people who believe the show is extremely dangerous for suicidal teens, as it showcases the ultimate revenge suicide fantasy. (I am of the latter opinion.)
One of the show's producers is none other than Selena Gomez. She's been a huge fan of the book that the show is based on since its release.
It's recently been reported that Gomez was in talks to play Hannah Baker herself back during her days on Disney Channel's "Wizards Of Waverly Place."
According to Cosmopolitan and a 2011 blog post from "13 Reasons Why" author Jay Asher, Selena was too famous to play Hannah Baker.
Yeah, she was literally too famous. What I would give to have that kind of problem.
Fans of the original book will know Gomez had been tied to the project for years before Netflix shows were even a thing.
Back in 2009, according to Asher's blog, she was one of the many people expressing deep interest in producing a full-on "13 Reasons Why" movie starring herself. Her production company, July Moon Productions, would have been behind its creation.
In the blog post, Asher said,
By that point, several production companies had asked to buy the film rights to Thirteen Reasons Why. Some even wanted to begin production immediately, but there was always at least one thing that made me uneasy about selling the rights. Maybe I was being too picky, but I didn't need to see my book turned into a movie to be satisfied. Then my agent said an actress was interested in playing Hannah Baker.
After doing some research into Gomez and her work (he watched "Wizards Of Waverly Place" and "Princess Protection Program," LMAO), he and his wife decided Gomez was perfect to play Hannah. I don't know how the hell "Princess Protection Program" makes you the perfect fit to play a suicidal teenager, but OK.
Asher continued in his post,
Fine, so I was convinced Selena could become Hannah. But her July Moon Productions also wanted to produce the film. While I do understand why movies occasionally need to stray from the books, when they completely change the tone or don't seem to understand what people like about the original story, things turn out bad. So I met Selena, her mom, and a cousin at a sushi restaurant in LA.
Lots of meetings and a couple years later, it was announced that Selena was playing Hannah. But the project never ended up being made.
Fast forward a few years more to when news broke that Netflix was adapting the book into its now most-tweeted show of 2017, where fans were informed that Selena Gomez was no longer playing Hannah Baker and was just set to be an executive producer of the show.
As it turns out, Selena's transition from Disney Channel sweetheart to full-blown grownup superstar is what basically sealed her fate with "13 Reasons Why." She was too grown-up to play the student, and she was too famous to play the main character of the show without sacrificing the integrity of the show.
In other words, Selena Gomez is too big of a face and a name to play Hannah Baker. Her presence would have been distracting. If she were on the show, all you would think about while watching is the fact that you're seeing Selena Gomez pretend to commit suicide, whereas with the casting of new face Katherine Langford, you're able to immerse yourself into Hannah's story because, for all you know, Langford is Hannah Baker.
Selena Gomez could never completely embody Hannah, and the show wouldn't have been as good because of it.
Gomez has commented on why she didn't play the lead role she had dreamed of playing for years, but her answers are pretty bogus. She said,
A book is frightening for me because I know the cult following it has, which is the reason why I didn't want to be in it.
It's OK, Selena. You can say you're literally just too famous to be in the show.
No one will be able to relate, but you can still say it!