Wendy is the love of Peter Pan. At the beginning she never wants to grow up. She has two younger brothers with the same ambitions. Tinker Bell is always jealous of Wendy. Near the end Wendy knows that everyone has to grow up some time.
Lovely young English actress Rachel Hurd-Wood got her start as an actress when she played Wendy Darling in the 2003 film adaptation of the Peter Pan classic. Miss Hurd-Wood was age 13 when the film was released in December of 2003. Apparently there was something special that the Peter Pan staff saw in this girl when she auditioned for the role of Wendy Darling. Five years after Rachel starred as Wendy, in 2008, she was ranked as the "36th Most Beautiful Famous Face", per "The Annual Independent Critics List of the 100 Most Beautiful Famous Faces From around the World". Even more remarkable, the Independent Critics ranked her as the 16th most beautiful face for 2009. She even made the list for a third consecutive year, when the Independent Critics ranked her #54 on their 2010 list. (per her IMDb page) The 2003 Peter Pan film grossed 48.4 million in United States receipts and 121.9 million worldwide, so Rachel Hurd-Wood's luck in landing the role of Wendy Darling got her noticed.
It was Rachel's grandmother that saw the ad asking for girls to audition to play Wendy Darling. An interesting note is that Rachel had to beat out Anna Popplewell for the part of Wendy Darling. Anna went on to star in The Chronicles of Narnia films. Considering that the first two Narnia films grossed $718 million and $419 million respectively, Anna has done just fine without the Wendy Darling role that she lost to Rachel.
It is most ironic that as a child Rachel was jealous of the Wendy Darling character, due to the fact that Wendy got to fly.
However, the 2003 film is only the most recent entry in a long series of Peter Pan films. The first Peter Pan movie was in 1924 and had Mary Brian play Wendy Darling. The 1953 animation version saw Kathryn Beaumont do the voice of Wendy. The 1960 made-for television Peter Pan cast Maureen Bailey as Wendy. The 1962 German television Peter Pan film had Helga Anders as Wendy. The 1976 made-for-television Peter Pan cast Briony McRoberts as Wendy. Finally the 2000 television version of Peter Pan showed Elisa Sagardia as the ever popular Wendy Darling.
Other films and television series not named Peter Pan still deal with the basic Peter Pan theme and have a Wendy Darling character. Famous Director Steven Spielberg provided a variation of the Peter Pan saga in his 1991 film, Hook. Here Peter Pan is an adult and no longer living in NeverLand. He is an attorney who is married to Wendy Darling's granddaughter and has two children. Maggie Smith plays an adult Wendy Darling, while Gwyneth Paltrow appears as a young Wendy in flashbacks only. Return to Neverland is a 2003 animated Disney film. It is also known as Peter Pan 2: Return to Neverland. Kath Soucie provides the voice of Wendy Darling in this film. Disney's 2008 computer generated animation film, Tinker Bell, has America Young as the voice of Wendy Darling. Fox also produced an animated television series called Peter Pan and the Pirates. It ran for one season from September 1990 to September 1991. This version was most unusual as it showed Wendy with black hair, instead of the normal brown or blonde. Christina Lange gave voice to Wendy Darling in this series.
Then let us not forget that the Peter Pan saga has had a long run on Broadway. Kathleen Nolan was Wendy in the 1954 Peter Pan play. She also played Wendy in 1955 and 1956 when the television series called Producer's Showcase provided two Peter Pan episodes. Marsha Kramer was cast as Wendy in the 1979 Broadway Peter Pan play. Peter Pan again returned to Broadway in 1990 and 1991 with Cindy Robinson as Wendy. Finally the 1998-1999 Broadway Peter Pan had Elisa Sagardia as Wendy Darling.