“I stood my ground because I was so scared of the costume,” Midler said of turning down the role.
Bette Midler attributes rejection of ‘Sister Act’ to divine intervention.
The multi-hyphenated talent revealed that she turned down the lead role in the 1992 musical comedy about a woman who poses as a nun in the witness protection program. Instead, Whoopi Goldberg was cast in the lead role and went on to star in the 1993 sequel, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit.
“I turned them down,” Midler said Species. “They came to me with ‘Sister Act’ and I said, ‘My fans don’t want to see me in clowning.’ Can you believe it? How far is this from the wall? How crazy is that?”
He continued: “Jeffrey Katzenberg would call me every day, ‘Please, please.’ I stood my ground because I was really afraid of the costume. Isn’t it wonderful? Can I wear anything but a nun’s habit?
The ‘Beaches’ star credited Goldberg’s performance: ‘Whoopi wore it all the way to the bank. So God bless him. And he was perfect for it.”
Midler also denied that she was tapped for 1990’s “Misery” before Kathy Bates was cast. “I just didn’t know. It was too violent,” he said. “The character was so unfunny, so without any redeeming qualities. He cut off his leg. Come on. Who does this?”
Of course, minus the nun’s habit, Midler has transformed into many characters on screen in a wide variety of outrageous costumes.
“I wore them all,” he explained. “I’ve been an old lady, a young lady, a witch, a mermaid, a showgirl, a stripper, a bad singer. I ran the scale. And I have to say, it was great.”
And Midler isn’t the only star to turn down a classic role: Sally Field was Midler’s future co-star in the 1996 comedy First Wives Club.
“Goldie (Hawn) really wanted me to do it,” said Field, the original “Flying Nun” People. “Maybe it would have been fun, but they were all so musical, and I wasn’t. And the movie wouldn’t have been the same.”
The “80 for Brady” star added, “I’ve avoided some movies that have groups of ladies because I have a certain feeling that women are about a lot more than dating or who’s going to be my next husband.”
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