There are two Beauty And The Beast pilots this season, one at ABC and one at the CW, with the search for actors to play the title roles among the most closely watched this season. In the end, none of the leads went to American actors. The title roles in the ABC Beauty And The Beast, which adheres closer to the classic fairy tale, went to young Irish actress Ruth Bradley (Grace aka Beauty) and Scottish singer-actor Darius Campbell (Shiro aka Beast). The CW pilot, based on the 1980s series, cast in the title roles Canadian beauty Kristin Kreuk (Catherine) and New Zealand-born Australian hunk Jay Ryan (Vincent). Of the four, only Smallville alumna Kreuk is a name in the U.S., while the other three are virtually unknown. Additionally, the ABC project has a third lead, a dashing prince, who will be played by Australian Chris Egan. It is true that Beauty And The Beast’s origins are not American — it started off as a French fairy tale — but it is closely associated with its most famous adaptation by Disney. Even though American screen adaptations of fairy tales tend to have some protagonists speak with a British accent, the complete shutout of American actors from the major characters in the two Beauty And The Beast projects is surprising. Especially after ABC’s hit fairytale series Once Upon A Time employs mostly American actors in the primary cast, including lead Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow White), Lana Parrilla (Evil Queen) and Josh Dallas (Prince Charming).
The two Beauty And The Beast projects are not the only pilots this season to cast non-American actors as their leads in what has become a growing trend over the past decade. The iconic U.S. comic book character Green Arrow is being played by Canadian Stephen Amell. The lead in a show called Americana is played by an Aussie, Anthony LaPaglia. Another Australian actor, Jesse Spencer, will play the lead in the NBC drama Chicago Fire. Also representing Down Under is Rachael Taylor, who landed the female lead in the ABC drama 666 Park Street.
British actress Janet Montgomery will play the lead in the CBS drama pilot Baby Big Shot, fellow Brit Minnie Driver will play one of the two leads in NBC’s Kari Lizer comedy. Another Brit, Theo James, landed the lead in the CBS drama pilot Golden Boy, James Purefoy will play the co-lead opposite Kevin Bacon in Fox’s Kevin Williamson drama, and, in her U.S. TV debut, Scottish actress Georgia King got the female lead in NBC’s comedy pilot The New Normal. It was a big year for Irish actors, too: In addition to Bradley’s casting in ABC’s Beauty And The Beast, Irish actress Amy Huberman, in her first-ever U.S. audition, landed the female lead in the NBC comedy Animal Kingdom. Compatriots Brían F. O’Byrne and Sarah Bolger landed the leads in the ABC period drama pilot Gilded Lilys.
Joining Amell, Canadian-born Rachelle Lefevre has been tapped as the lead in the CBS drama pilot Applebaum. Another Canadian, Colin Ferguson, is set to star in Bill Lawrence’s Fox comedy pilot Like Father, and fellow Canadian Jessica Lucas will play the lead in the CW drama pilot Cult.