‘Sister Act’: Carrie Fisher Played a Major Behind the Scene Role in Making the Film a Reality

Whoopi Goldberg’s biggest project these days might be moderating episodes of The View, but the actress has a long history of making popular movies that brought fans to the theaters in droves. One of her most popular movies is Sister Act, a musical comedy that was released in 1992. It not only launched Goldberg to worldwide fame, but it spawned a franchise that is still going strong to this day. As fantastic as Goldberg is in the film, however, there was a time when another actress was being eyed for the leading role. 

‘Sister Act’ is one of Whoopi Goldberg’s biggest films

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Sister Act tells the story of Deloris Wilson, a talented lounge singer who accidentally witnesses her gangster boyfriend execute an informant. In order to stay safe, Wilson is placed in witness protection and brought to Saint Katherine’s Convent, a nunnery in a run-down area of San Francisco.

Deloris initially struggles with life inside the convent and has a tough time following their strict rules, but she eventually finds friends. Not only does Deloris find her stride at Saint Katherine’s Convent, but she begins working with the convent choir, becoming their director and completely transforming their sound.

In the end, Deloris’s life is greatly improved for her tenure at the convent, and she is able to bring joy into the nunnery in a way that it never had been before. The film received a sequel in 1993 and a musical production in 2006 — and to this day, rumors of a third film continue to swirl. 

Bette Midler was originally supposed to star in ‘Sister Act’

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It might be hard for fans to imagine anyone but Goldberg in the role of Deloris Wilson. Still, prior to Goldberg’s casting, showrunners were looking at many actresses for the role.

In fact, Bette Midler herself was initially cast as the star but dropped out of the film prior to the beginning of production. Midler later told Metro UK: “I said: ‘My fans don’t want to see me in a wimple.’ I don’t know where I got that from. Why would I say such a thing? So Whoopi did it instead and, of course, she made a fortune.”

Fortunately, showrunners were able to quickly find a suitable replacement- and ultimately, their choice was a woman who was able to make the role entirely her own. 

What role did Carrie Fisher have in the making of ‘Sister Act’?

Carrie Fisher attends Marina Rinaldi launch of new atelier on July 3, 2014 in London, England.
Carrie Fisher|David M. Benett/Getty Images for Marina Rinaldi

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Right around the time that Goldberg was cast in Sister Act, showrunners decided to overhaul the script. Scriptwriters were given only two weeks in order to make the requested changes, according to a report by London Theatre Direct, so to help flesh out the final product, contributing writers were brought into the process.

One of these writers was Carrie Fisher, the actress well known for her work in Star Wars as Princess Leia. Fisher, a known “script doctor” in Hollywood, had a hand in crafting many scripts over the years, including Hook and Lethal Weapon 3.

Unfortunately, while Fisher passed away in 2016 at the age of 60, the film that she helped to craft is still going strong — as is Goldberg. Sister Act is a film that, even though it is more than two decades old, remains as fresh as funny as ever before. Part of the credit can surely be given to the strong script, as well as to the work by the talented cast members.