Halloweentown's Marnie Recast Explained: Why Kimberly J. Brown Got Replaced

By Gillian Blum Updated:
Halloweentown Kimberly J. Brown and Sara Paxton as Marnie Piper

If one takes a look at the classic Halloweentown franchise, one may notice an inconsistency in the fourth and final film in the franchise.

Return to Halloweentown saw a new actress, Sara Paxton, take over for Kimberly J. Brown in the lead role of Marnie Piper, a witch who served as the protagonist for all the franchise's movies.

Over the years since the 2006 installment, fans may have wondered why exactly such a significant role was suddenly recast right as the franchise neared its end.

Why Was Marnie Recast in Halloweentown 4?

Kimberly J. Brown as Marnie in Halloweentown

Back in 2013, original Marnie Piper actor Kimberly J. Brown, who played the Halloweentown protagonist in the franchise's first three movies, addressed the longstanding question of "why [she] didn't do Halloweentown 4," with her blunt answer being that she's "not really sure."

She explained that even though some people thought she was busy on another project at the time, and that's why she wasn't brought back, this "was not the case at the time." 

She said she "was available and ready to do it," and even cited having discussed it with the movie's team in some capacity:

"A lot of you asked why I didn't do 'Halloweentown 4' and the answer to that is I'm not really sure. ... Some people asked me, or said that they heard that I was working on something, which was not the case at the time. I was available and ready to do it, and had talked to them about possibly doing it."

Ultimately, though, as fans know, "Disney decided to go in a different direction and recast the role," a move that Brown said made her "bummed," as she did hope to continue playing Marnie:

"But Disney decided to go in a different direction and recast the role. So that's really all I know about the situation, and all I'm really going to say about it. I was bummed, and, you know, obviously loved the character and the movies and wanted to do it, but they just decided to hire a different actress, so that's the way it goes."

She went on to thank fans for the "messages" supporting her through the cast change, saying the "support's really cool:"

"I should say, I do appreciate a lot of your guys' messages about the, you know, about the movies and about them changing Marnie and that sort of thing, and your support's really cool, so I just have to say that too."

Then, almost a decade later in 2021, Sara Paxton, Brown's replacement, addressed things from her perspective. She admitted that she "get[s] a lot of flack online for this movie," saying that she "prepare[s] [her]self" each October 31st for the fan comments "hating on" her:

"I get a lot of flack online for this movie. Like, every Halloween, I prepare myself, because I know that on Twitter and Instagram there's going to be a lot of people, like, hating on me."

Paxton explained more specifically that she "get[s] so many messages" along the lines of "you're not better than Kimberly J. Brown," to which she says that she "love[s] Kimberly J. Brown too:"

"I get so many messages being like 'you're not better than Kimberly J. Brown,' like 'why did you do...' And I'm like 'I love Kimberly J. Brown too!'"

As Paxton explained, she has "met her a handful of times," calling her "so sweet," and wanting to emphasize to fans that "there's no beef:"

"I feel like... I've met her a handful of times, and, like, she's so sweet ... I want to be like 'there's no beef' like 'I'm a fan.'"

Based on these two responses, it is likely that this wasn't a decision made about the actors' scheduling or logistics, nor did Brown seem to leave the franchise with bad blood toward Disney.

More likely, it was a cost or contractual issue, or Disney for one reason or another just wanted to bring in someone new, or had a different creative vision.

All the movies in the Halloweentown franchise are available to stream on Disney+.

- About The Author: Gillian Blum
Gillian Blum has been a writer at The Direct since 2022, reporting primarily from New York City. Though she covers news from across the entertainment industry, Gillian has a particular focus on Marvel and DC, including comics, movies, and television shows. She also commonly reports on Percy Jackson, Invincible, and other similar franchises.