All the Actresses Who Tried & Failed to Play Hanna Marin on Pretty Little Liars

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Say what you want about Ashley Benson‘s character on Pretty Little Liars, but there’s one thing you cannot deny — Hanna Marin is entertaining AF. Sure, she’s had some cringe-worthy moments during the Freeform series, but overall the blonde beauty has a good heart and provides the Rosewood residents with the comic relief they so desperately need at times.

After being on the air for more than six years, it’s super hard to picture anyone other than the 26-year-old actress playing Ms. Marin. But as we’ve seen with many of our favorite television shows, it generally takes a lot of time, effort and heartbreak to find the perfect person to bring a character to life. Here are all the stars who tried out for the role of Hanna before PLL execs decided Ashley would be the ultimate choice.

1. Lucy Hale — While all the Little Liars have equally important roles on PLL, Aria Mongomery has somehow become the unofficial face of the series. But before Lucy got this ~coveted~ role, she went in to read for two different parts — Aria and the ditsy Hanna Marin. “Hanna is the comedic relief of the show, whereas Aria is darker and edgier,” Lucy once told Teen Vogue. “Everyone immediately said, ‘Oh, you’re so Aria.’ I suppose that’s another thing I have in common with Aria, she’s sixteen going on 35, and I feel that way too.” Thank goodness everyone pointed the 27-year-old in the direction of Ms. Montgomery, because she’s legit PERFECT for the role.

2. Sasha Pieterse — Sasha was only 13 years old when she filmed the first episode of Pretty Little Liars as Alison DiLaurentis, making her the youngest member of the entire cast. While her age didn’t stop her from becoming a star of the show, it did prevent her from getting the role she originally tried out for — Hanna Marin. According to IMDB, PLL creator I. Marlene King liked Sasha’s audition for the blonde role, but “thought she was too young to play a shoplifter on [Freeform].”

3. Bianca Lawson — You know and love Bianca as Maya St. Germain on Pretty Little Liars (still not over her death, BTW), but she could’ve had a whole different relationship with Emily Fields. You see, the 37-year-old actress originally auditioned to play Hanna Marin, meaning she was pretty close to playing Shay Mitchell’s on-screen BFF rather than her lover.

At least Hanna Marin wasn’t recast like these other PLL characters!