These Actresses Almost Played Yelena Belova

There has been many instances when other actors were considered for a role that would go on to become so signature of someone else; Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova is definitely one strong example. The character of Natasha’s sister was first introduced in the 2021 Black Widow movie. Everyone instantly fell in love with Yelena’s strong charisma and self-confidence. At the time, Pugh assured fans that her character’s introduction to the franchise did not mean the Black Widow torch was passing on to Yelena. That being said, now, original Avengers actors have publicly stated otherwise with their respective characters. For instance, Mark Ruffalo said Bruce Banner will pass the torch to She-Hulk in her upcoming eponymous Disney + series; meanwhile, Tom Hiddleston called himself a “temporary torchbearer” for Loki.

As we now all know, Yelena played an important role in the recent Disney + series Hawkeye and will probably return for further projects. After all, Yelena completely stole the show as Black Widow critics praised Pugh’s performance. Would it have had the same result if a different actress got cast as the adoptive sister of Natasha Romanoff? Let us take a look at four other actresses that almost got the role.

Related: Florence Pugh’s 9 Best Performances, Ranked

4 Alice Englert


One of the four candidates for the role of Yelena was reportedly the 27-year-old Australian actress-director Alice Englert. The Hashtag Show wrote that her audition made “a strong impression” on the casting directors. Born into a family of filmmakers, Englert naturally gravitated towards a career in the film industry from a very young age. 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 – playing Yelena would most probably have given her the needed push towards global recognition. As of late, she is well-known for playing Nurse Dolly in the ongoing Netflix’s series Ratched.

3 Saoirse Ronan


Florence Pugh was not the only actress from Little Women that was considered for the role of the Red Room operative. Saoirse Ronan was apparently also considered by the casting directors. Some fans, meaning no disrespect of course, are glad that Ronan was not the final pick, because they’re convinced that Pugh was meant to play Yelena. On the contrary, even before the Black Widow casting was announced, some fans did indeed fan-cast Ronan for the role of Yelena. The Academy Award nominee is best known for starring in critically acclaimed period dramas such as Joe Wright’s Atonement (2007), Brooklyn (2015) and Greta Gerwig’s Little Women (2019). Yet, she is certainly not constrained to one genre, and considering how she has been auditioning for others big franchise roles, like Star Warsin the past, it’s only a matter of time until she joins the blockbuster family.

2 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. 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 a 2018 American drama Papa and a 2021 American biographical drama Survivor. Taking into consideration the smaller roles she has played, her audition truly had to be remarkable, and we wonder what she would have done with the role of Yelena.

Related: Tom Holland and Florence Pugh Have Discussed a Spider-Man & Yelena Crossover Movie

1 Emma Watson

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

Yes, back in 2019, Emma Watson was rumored to be the top casting choice for Scarlett Johansson’s co-star. As much as we love Watson, we have to admit that if she were cast, she would probably bring something completely different to the character. The actress is known for her graceful elegant roles, such as Hermione in the Harry Potter series, Belle in Beauty and the Beast (2017) and as Meg March in Little Women (2019). Watson’s English poshness would probably intervene with Yelena’s signature Russian toughness. For all we know, Watson could maybe surprise us with her acting diversity once given the role.

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