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Whoopi Goldberg initially REJECTED starring role in The Color Purple

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Whoopi Goldberg has revealed that she initially rejected Steven Spielberg’s offer for her to take on her career-making role in the classic film The Color Purple.

The actress, 65, has admitted that she believed taking on the starring role as Celie in the critically-acclaimed 1985 classic would be ‘too big’ of a project for her film debut.

She told Total Film: ‘Steven Spielberg said to me, “I really want you to play the role of Celie”. And I said, “Erm, no.” He said, “I’m sorry what?’ And I replied, “Well no, I think I need a smaller role. I’ve never made a movie before and I don’t want to be terrible.”

Role: Whoopi Goldberg has revealed that she initially rejected Steven Spielberg’s offer for her to take on her career-making role in the classic film The Color Purple. Pictured in 2019

‘He looked at me and said, “I’m going to make a deal with you. Trust me that I know this part is right for you and if I think you’re being terrible, I will help.” I agreed and he directed me by talking to me about movies.’

The period drama, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker, went on to be a box office success, $142 million against a budget of $15 million.

It also garnered 11 Academy Award nominations, including a Best Actress nod for Whoopi and a Best Supporting Actress nod for her co-star Oprah Winfrey.

Big project: The actress, 65, has admitted that she believed taking on the starring role as Celie in the critically-acclaimed 1985 classic would be ‘too big’ of a project for her film debut

The rest is history: Steven Spielberg eventually convinced Whoopi to take on the starring role. Pictured together on the acclaimed period drama’s film set back in 1985

Whoopi’s revelation comes after she admitted that Patrick Swayze was responsible for her landing her career defining role in 1990 film Ghost – after she was initially turned down due to her persona being ‘too big’.

The actress, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as fake psychic Oda Mae Brown in the film, told Naomi Campbell’s No Filter YouTube series the late star refused to take up his role until she got an audition.   

She also revealed that casting directors had turned her down for the role for fear her vibrant personality would take over the film and deflect the spotlight from the storyline.

Whoopi said she had contacted her agent after finding out from a friend about the film and audition, telling her: ‘I just went to this audition, every black woman and their mother went to this audition. Women got out of the grave for this audition.’ 

Candid: Whoopi previously revealed that Patrick Swayze was responsible for her landing her career defining role in 1990 film Ghost (above with Naomi Campbell on her YouTube channel)

She said: ‘I asked my agent why I wasn’t told about it and he responded: “They don’t want you. They think that your persona is too big and will take people out of the movie.”‘

‘I said: “Not that I’m comparing myself but Marlon Brando is big. They’re a big character and then you move on.”‘

But the Sister Act star was soon vindicated when she received a call asking for her to audition for the legendary role. 

Whoopi said: ‘I was called up and told “remember that movie they didn’t want you for?” 

Iconic: The actress, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as fake psychic Oda Mae Brown in the film, said Patrick Swayze refused to do the film without her

‘They’ve hired Patrick Swayze, Patrick wanted to know why they hadn’t come to you. They told him you would take people out of the movie. They won’t let me bring her in

‘He responded: “I’m not saying yes to this piece until we know she’s not the right person.” I’d never met him but he was a fan!’

Patrick and the director then flew to Alabama to read with Whoopi, with the star saying she instantly hit it off with Patrick – who died in 2009 aged 57 from pancreatic cancer. 

She said: ‘As soon as we looked at each other we started laughing. We went on for two hours.’ 

No way: She also revealed that casting directors had turned her down for the role for fear her vibrant personality would take over the film and deflect the spotlight from the storyline

Dynamic duo: After being offered his role, Patrick responded, ‘I’m not saying yes to this piece until we know she’s not the right person’

Ghost tells the story of Patrick Swayze’s character Sam being killed by a thug and his danger leaving his girlfriend Molly, played by Demi Moore, in danger. Sam enlists the help of a psychic, depicted by Whoopi, to help warn Molly that she is at risk. 

As the 30th anniversary of the movie’s release has come around, the film has been a hot topic, with its director Jerry Zucker recently admitting Whoopi’s award-winning role nearly went to songstress Tina Turner.   

He said: ‘She did a credible job, but she wasn’t quite an actress. Maybe she could be, but there was a big difference.’ 

Heartbreaking: Ghost tells the story of Patrick Swayze’s character Sam being killed by a thug and his danger leaving his girlfriend Molly, played by Demi Moore, in danger

 Earlier this year, two-time Golden Globe nominee Demi celebrated the ’30th anniversary of Ghost’ by sharing a clip of the tear-jerking, penny-floating scene.

The 1990 paranormal romantic thriller amassed $505.7M at the global box office, and it still holds a 74% critic approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes

The sexually-charged pottery scene alone helped put The Righteous Brothers’ 1965 cover of Unchained Melody back on the Billboard charts – even earning a 1991 Grammy Award nomination.

Patrick – who played Wall Street banker Sam Wheat – died, age 57, in 2009 after a 20-month battle with stage IV pancreatic cancer.     

Hit: The pottery scene alone helped put The Righteous Brothers’ 1965 cover of Unchained Melody back on the Billboard charts – even earning a 1991 Grammy Award nomination 

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