Bette Midler Turned Down ‘Sister Act’ Over Nun Costume: ‘How Crazy Is That?’

Bette Midler is crediting divine intervention for turning down “Sister Act.”

The multi-hyphenate talent revealed that she said no to starring in the 1992 musical comedy about a woman who pretends to be a nun while in the witness protection program. Whoopi Goldberg was instead cast in the lead role and later went on to star in its 1993 sequel “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit.”

“I turned them down,” Midler told Variety. “They came to me with ‘Sister Act’ and I said, ‘My fans don’t want to see me in a wimple.’ Can you believe that? How off the wall is that? How crazy is that?”

She continued, “Jeffrey Katzenberg called me every day, ‘Please, please.’ I stood my ground because I really was afraid of the costume. Isn’t that amazing? I can wear anything but a nun’s habit?”

The “Beaches” star credited Goldberg’s performance, saying, “Whoopi wore it all the way to the bank. So God bless her. And she was perfect for it.”

Midler additionally denied being tapped for 1990’s “Misery” before Kathy Bates was cast. “I just couldn’t. It was too violent,” she said. “The character was so not funny, so without any qualities of redemption. She cut off his foot. Come on. Who does that?”

Of course, minus a nun habit, Midler has transformed into numerous characters onscreen with a wide range of outrageous costumes.

“I’ve worn them all,” she explained. “I have been an old lady, a young lady, a witch, a mermaid, a showgirl, a stripper, a bad lounge singer. I’ve run the gamut. And I have to say, it’s been a blast.”

And Midler isn’t the only star to turn down a classic role: Sally Field was Midler’s would-be co-star for 1996 comedy “First Wives Club.”

“Goldie [Hawn] really wanted me to do it,” Field, the original “Flying Nun,” told People. “Maybe it would have been fun, but they were all so musical, and I’m not. And the movie wouldn’t have been the same.”

The “80 for Brady” star added, “I have avoided some other films that are groups of ladies because I have certain feelings that women are about so much more than just looking for a date or who’s my next husband.”

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