Here’s Why Marnie Was Recast in the ‘Halloweentown’ Franchise: ‘There’s No Beef’

Kimberly J Brown played the role in 1998, 2001 and 2004 but didn’t return for the final installment

Kimberly J Brown and Sara Paxton
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Being normal is vastly overrated, but re-watching the “Halloweentown” franchise each year certainly is not. Of course, there’s one question that always comes back on those rewatches: why wasn’t Kimberly J. Brown in all of them?

Brown starred as Marnie Piper (though she later embraced her name as a Cromwell witch) in the first three movies in the series. But, after “Halloweentown High,” Sara Paxton took over the role for “Halloweentown Returns,” without any kind of explanation from or preparation by Disney. The move draws outrage from fans to this day, as many millennials considered it a “betrayal.”

So why did it happen? Well, according to Brown herself, she was initially in talks for the fourth film. In a 2018 Q&A video, the actress explained that there were conversations, but she never really found out why they fell apart.

“The answer to that is I’m not really sure,” Brown said. “Some people asked me, or said that they heard 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 — about doing it. But Disney decided to go in a different direction and recast the role. So, that’s really all I know about the situation.”

Brown added that she was definitely “bummed” about the decision, but “that’s the way it goes,” and thanked fans for their unwavering support, even so many years later.

Naturally, much of the fan outrage fell not just on Disney, but on Sara Paxton specifically, for filling the part. In an interview with fellow former Disney star Christy Carlson Romano in 2021, Paxton explained that she loved Brown in the role too, and loved the movies so much that, when the opportunity was presented to her, she jumped on it. But she also noted that she has to brace herself for the annual showings of it.

“I watched all those movies, I loved those movies, so I was asked, and I was like ‘Hell yeah! I’m so excited!’” Paxton explained. “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 gonna be a lot of people hating on me.”

But Brown herself isn’t among those people. As Paxton explained, the actresses have met a few times, and it’s all love between them.

“I’ve met her a handful of times and she’s so sweet, and… I wanna be like ‘There’s no beef! I’m a fan!’” Paxton said.

You can catch some of the “Halloweentown” movies during Freeform’s 31 Nights of Halloween, or stream them all on Disney+.