Melissa Benoist has soared for over 100 episodes as the titular hero on Supergirl – but several actresses were also in line for the iconic Arrowverse role. Created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino, the character debuted in 1959’s Action Comics #252. Arriving on Earth sometime after her cousin, Kal-El (aka Clark Kent/Superman), Kara Zor-El assumed the human identity of Linda Lee Danvers and the superhero persona of Supergirl. She served as a recurring presence until the character was killed during Marv Wolfman’s Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline. Supergirl ultimately made her return, however, during Jeph Loeb’s 2004 story, The Supergirl from Krypton.
Blending the character’s Kryptonian and human names, Benoist debuted as Kara Danvers/Supergirl in 2015. The show began life on CBS before moving to The CW ahead of its second season. There, it more prominently joined The Flash and Arrow as part of the shared DC Comics-based universe. Taking part in the annual Arrowverse crossover events, the show also helped establish further spinoffs including the upcoming Superman & Lois series. Also starring Chyler Leigh and David Harewood, Supergirl recently concluded its truncated fifth season – with a highly delayed Supergirl season 6 already confirmed for 2021.
Like both Arrow‘s Stephen Amell and The Flash‘s Grant Gustin, Benoist was actually the first actress that was seen for the role of Supergirl. Despite that, she didn’t officially land the role until three months later. In that time, countless women auditioned and screen-tested for the role – including several faces that many will undoubtedly recognize. Here are the actresses who came close to wearing Supergirl’s cape:
Holt is perhaps best known for her role as original vampire Rebekah Mikaelson on fellow CW show The Vampire Diaries. A firm-fan favorite, both the character and actress returned frequently for the spinoff show, The Originals. The Australian-born actress also had a prominent role in NBC’s Aquarius, which was centered around the infamous crimes of Charles Manson. Given her similar look to the character and the established knack for physically demanding, action-based roles, it’s easy to see why Holt was linked to the role of Kara Danvers.
The British actress first came to prominence as part of the U.K.’s young adult soap opera Hollyoaks. Atkinson played the character of Lisa Hunter for five years. Since then, she has appeared in hospital drama Casualty. She also starred in several indie films, including How to Stop Being a Loser alongside veteran actor Richard E. Grant. Supergirl would have marked her introduction to a wider, U.S. audience.
The Texas-born actress enjoyed a more prominent role as a live-action version of Frozen‘s Princess Anna on ABC fantasy series Once Upon a Time. She also played the lead role of Quinn Harris in the recent supernatural horror film Countdown – which centered on a killer app. Most, however, will recognize Lail for her turn as the ill-fated Guinevere Beck on Netflix’s psychological thriller YOU. As the object of Joe Goldberg’s deranged affections, she featured opposite Penn Badgley throughout season 1. Following the character’s tragic end, Lail returned as a haunting apparition in season 2. The actress described testing for the role “a career highlight“. As Kara Danvers, it would no doubt have been fun to see her protect people from the kind of monster she famously acted out falling victim to.
Compton starred as the similarly named Kara on lesser-known series Making Moves. She is best known, though, for her role as Allegra Garcia on The Flash. Compton made her first appearance in The Flash season 6, episode 2, “A Flash of the Lightning” and recurred thereafter. Proving to be a solid addition, she was promoted to a series regular and is set to be a prominent member of Team Flash in The Flash season 7. Things could have been very different, however. Compton previously auditioned for the role of Kara Danvers – with hers being one of those leaked online. Given how well Compton slipped into her eventual role and how synonymous Benoist has become with her role on Supergirl, there’s little doubt that the powers that be made the right choices.