GMA VP Wilma Galvante reveals it took some time to get the story rights of "Marimar" from Televisa, the owner of story rights of the Mexican Telenovela. Angel Locsin was the first choice to play the title role but she declined, because she didn't want to dance. The contract required that the Pinoy version be made before the end of 2007, which prompted the network to give an audition for the highly profiled role. GMA female artists such as Nadine Samonte, Katrina Halili, Jennylyn Mercado, Marian Rivera, Valerie Concepcion, Bianca King, Rhian Ramos, Glaiza de Castro, Jewel Mische and Karylle all went to the audition.
The role eventually went to Marian Rivera, who had 80% chance of winning the role, beating her closest rival for the role Jennylyn Mercado.