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Charlize Theron Lost Showgirls Role to Elizabeth Berkley for Not Being Well-Known Enough

“There’s always someone younger and hungrier coming down the stairs after you.” In Charlize Theron’s case, that someone was Elizabeth Berkley (minus the younger part). Showgirls director Paul Verhoeven revealed that the Oscar-winning actress, 40, was up for the part of dancer Nomi Malone in the 1995 cult classic film, but ultimately lost out to the Saved by the Bell alum, 43. 

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“Charlize also auditioned, and I don’t recall her having any problem with the nudity at all,” Verhoeven told the New York Daily News in a new interview. “She was good and wanted the part, but basically she was not well-known enough at the time and just did not fit the part, so we said no.”

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According to Verhoeven, the rejection turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the then-aspiring actress, as he credited Berkley’s role in Showgirls for ruining her formerly promising future in acting. 

Elizabeth Berkeley in Showgirls

Elizabeth Berkeley in Showgirls
Credit: Mary Evans/Ronald Grant/Courtesy Everett Collection

“I have full respect for Charlize, but if she had been offered the part then she would probably have been chewed up in the same way they treated Elizabeth,” he added. “She was very lucky that she did not get the part. I wish Charlize congratulations for that because it would have have been a miserable 20 years for her!”

He went on to explain how the role tarnished Berkley’s career. 

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“It made my life more difficult, but not to the degree it did Elizabeth’s,” the director said. “Hollywood turned their backs on her. If somebody has to be blamed, it should be me because I thought that it was interesting to portray somebody like that.”

Verhoeven had Berkley play Nomi with a “certain abruptness” due to the character’s history of drug abuse. 

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“I had hoped the end of the movie would explain why she acted that way, when it’s revealed she has convictions linked with drugs, but that too turned out to be a big mistake,” he said. 

Tell Us: Do you think Charlize Theron would have been able to legitimize Showgirls?

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