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These Actresses Almost Played Yelena Belova

Black Widow was one of the most anticipated movies in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film was the long-awaited solo film for Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff, who had been a supporting character for over a decade. Yet following Black Widow’s death in Avengers: Endgame, Black Widow also served as the launching pad for a new character named Yelena Belova, who was played by Florence Pugh. Pugh was cast in 2019 when she was having a phenomenal year with roles in films like Fighting With My Family, Midsommar, and Little Women.

Update May 15, 2023: This article has been updated with even more stars Marvel Studios considered for Yelena Belova and with additional details regarding the status of the MCU.

As soon as Black Widow opened, fans and critics praised Pugh’s performance and said Yelena stole the show. The same year the character appeared on the Disney+ series Hawkeye, where she formed a semi-friendship and rivalry with Kate Bishop as a nice mirror to the friendship Black Widow and Hawkeye had. Now Pugh’s Yelena Belova will be the lead in the upcoming film, Thunderbolts. It is now difficult to imagine anyone else in the role of Yelena Belova but like all Marvel characters, many people were considered for the part. Here are the five other potential Yelena Belova’s that Marvel Studios considered before Florence Pugh.



5 Alice Englert


One of the candidates for the role of Yelena was reportedly the 27-year-old Australian actress-director Alice Englert. Born into a family of filmmakers, Englert naturally gravitated towards a career in the film industry from a very young age. Englert is best known for her role as Lena Duchannes in Beautiful Creatures, a movie that caused a revolt in the fandom for not getting a sequel.

Related: Florence Pugh’s 9 Best Performances, Ranked

Playing Yelena would probably have given her the push toward global recognition. Since then, she has starred as Nurse Dolly in the Netflix series Ratched and had a role in the Academy Award-nominated film, The Power of the Dog. She recently wrote, directed, and starred in the movie Bad Behavior, a black comedy that premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.

4 Saoirse Ronan

Saoirse Ronan in Little Women
Sony Pictures Releasing

Florence Pugh was not the only actress from Little Women that was considered for the role of the Red Room operative. Saoirse Ronan was also considered by the casting directors. The Academy Award-nominee is best known for starring in critically acclaimed period dramas such as Joe Wright’s Atonement (2007) and Brooklyn (2015), as well as the titular role in Lady Bird (2017).

The MCU has been after Ronan for years, as she was once considered for the role of The Scarlet Witch in Avengers: Age of Ultron before the part went to Elizabeth Olsen. Will Ronan ever join the MCU? The four-time Academy Award nominee certainly does not seem in a rush to join any major franchises. Ronan recently starred in See How They Run and will next be seen in movies such as Academy Award-winning director Steve McQueen’s Blitz, the sci-fi thriller Foe, and the adaptation of the novel The Outrun.

3 Dar Zuzovsky


Similar to Englert, the Israeli actress Dar Zuzovsky also made a strong impression on the directors during her audition. Born and raised in Tel Aviv, Zuzovsky started her career as a model when she was only 15, shooting for big corporations such as Urban Outfitters, Samsung, and Sephora.

Related: Black Widow: 6 Actresses Almost Cast as Natasha Romanoff

As for her acting career, she has appeared in an Israeli drama television series, Hostages, and an Israeli romantic-drama TV series, Beauty and the Baker. As far as her movie roles, she has starred in the 2018 American drama Papa and a 2021 American biographical drama Survivor. Zuzovsky is the actress on this list with the shortest amount of credits, and the role of Yelena Belova would have certainly launched her into superstardom. Hopefully, she is still on the MCU’s radar.

2 Emma Watson

Emma-Watson-In-Little-Women (1)
Columbia Pictures

Yes, back in 2019, Emma Watson was rumored to be the top casting choice for Scarlett Johansson’s co-star. While she is best known for her role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series, she has also starred in movies like The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), The Bling Ring (2013), and Beauty and the Beast (2017). She also starred in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, which also featured fellow frontrunner Soarise Ronan and, of course, Florence Pugh, who ended up with the role.

While Ronan might be the most acclaimed pick from the names, Watson certainly would have been the biggest star among those considered for the part. Following Little Women, Watson stepped away from acting but now appears to want to return. Watson appears to have put Harry Potter behind her, but there is still always room for her in the ever-growing MCU, and her presence would certainly be welcomed by fans.

1 Jodie Comer

Jodie-Comer-Killing-Eve (1)
BBC Studios

Jodie Comer has certainly flown onto the MCU’s radar. Following her stoic yet charming assassin in the television series Killing Eve, it appeared she had gained the attention of Marvel Studios and was considered for the part of Yelena Belova. While she did not get the part, the same year that Black Widow opened in theaters, Comer had two high-profile projects open as well. The first was Free Guy, the action comedy starring Ryan Reynolds, and the second was Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel. Had she taken part in Black Widow, she likely would not have been able to take on either project.

Comer has now been heavily rumored for the part of Sue Storm/The Invisible Woman in the MCU’s reboot of Fantastic Four. While nothing is official yet, Comer might be joining the MCU in a different part, but one that might someday see her interacting with Yelena Belova. While Comer would have been great as Yelena Belova, it is hard to argue with Pugh, and it is safe to say that Marvel Studios made the right choice.

This story originally appeared on Movieweb

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