Barks' name might not be as recognizable as Swift's, but she is no stranger to the part. The 21-year-old U.K. native and stage actress played it twice before: Once during the 2010 London production of the musical, and again during the 2011 25th Anniversary Concert at the 02 Arena, which co-starred Nick Jonas, to whom she was romantically linked at the time.
Barks not only beat out the likes of Swift, but also several high-profile Hollywood starlets including Evan Rachel Wood, Scarlett Johansson and Lea Michele, who were all vying for a part in the Tom Hooper-directed big-screen adaptation of the stage show. Barks joins Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Eddie Redmayne and Anne Hathaway, among other Tinseltown A-listers, in the flick.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Barks learned of the good news from theatre producer Cameron Mackintosh, who made the surprise announcement onstage during a curtain call after her performance in "Oliver!" at England's Manchester Palace.
In an interview with the BBC shortly after the news was announced, Barks said, "To have that news, it still surprised me now. I'm really shocked. It's an incredible cast. ... I'm very excited to meet them and to work with them all.
"I've had such an amazing journey with the character. I feel so excited to get to explore another side of her. ... Now it's the film, so it's a big, old journey. ... To get to do the film is absolutely amazing."
She also took to Twitter to express her joy over the chance to star in the film: "Words cannot express how much I appreciate all the amazing support I have received from everyone! I haven't stopped smiling!"
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