‘How crazy is that?’: Bette Midler on bizarre reason she turned down Whoopi Goldberg’s Sister Act role

Bette Midler has shared the “off the wall” reason she turned down the part of Deloris Van Cartier in Sister Act.

The 1992 comedy, about a singer who is forced into a witness protection programme in a convent, was originally written by screenwriter Paul Rudnick with Midler in mind for the role.

However, the actor turned down the part, which went on to become one of Whoopi Goldberg’s most notable roles ever.

In a new interview, Midler, 77, was asked if there were any parts she considered to be the “role that got away”.

“They got away or I turned them down!” she 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?

“[Walt Disney Studios boss] 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?”

Midler said that Goldberg wore the costume “all the way to the bank”, adding: “So God bless her. And she was perfect for it.”

Sister Act was one of the highest-grossing comedies of the early Nineties, with a sequel following in 1993.

Whoopi Goldberg in 1993’s ‘Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit' (Buena Vista pictures)
Whoopi Goldberg in 1993’s ‘Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit' (Buena Vista pictures)

A potential third film has long been the subject of rumours, with Goldberg sharing an update in January.

Appearing on Loose Women, The View panellist said that she would only appear on the show if Maggie Smith returned as Mother Superior.

“You know, one of the things that I want to make sure I do while I’m here is… I want to let Maggie Smith know that I’m holding the part of Mother Superior for you,” she said, addressing Smith.

“Because I just can’t do it with anybody but you.”