Mandy Moore made her leading role debut in the 2002 romance film as Jamie Sullivan, the ostracized teenage daughter of a reverend. The film debuted a year after Moore had a supporting role in the first Princess Diaries film opposite Anne Hathaway as Lana Thomas, a cheerleader who antagonized Hathaway's Mia and her misfit pals.
In an interview with PEOPLE alongside Moore and star Shane West — who played Moore's love interest, Landon Carter — for the film's 20th anniversary on Tuesday, A Walk to Remember director Adam Shankman shared that Hathaway had vied for the role of Jamie — a fact that the Oscar winner had to remind him of.
"I don't remember this, but Anne Hathaway has told me that she was down to the wire on it," Shankman said. "And I was like, 'Really?' And she was like, 'Oh, yeah. I was one of the finals.' I was like, 'I don't remember that.' I don't really remember anybody in that game because I was pulling for Mandy. But Annie told me that she was there."
Everett Collection; Inset: Vera Anderson/WireImage Anne Hathaway vied for the leading role in 'A Walk to Remember'
"She and I are very friendly," Shankman added. "So I was just surprised because I just hadn't remembered that."
Shankman also previously shared that another pop star was up for the leading role: Jessica Simpson.
"The studio had me looking at Jessica Simpson," Shankman told ELLE in 2006. "But I was driving up Laurel Canyon. I heard Mandy's song 'I Wanna Be With You,' and I thought, 'Who the hell is that little angel voice?' I went to the Virgin record store, saw her face, and flipped out. I said, 'That's my girl.'"
West, for his part, also immediately knew that the film had found its Jamie in Moore. In an interview with EW for the film's 15th anniversary in 2017, West said his and Moore's contrasting personalities perfectly mirrored their star-crossed lover counterparts.
"It was kind of perfect the way we came into the project because she was coming from this pop background at that time — she had her song 'Candy,' and a role in The Princess Diaries — and for me, I was into punk rock and so it was like completely opposites attract, or opposites are forced together to work," West said. "It was great for the role because that's how the characters are put together in the movie."