‘Sister Act’: Why an Oscar-Winning Filmmaker Turned Down the Movie

Whoopi Goldberg was already on a hot streak when Sister Act came around. After all, the actor had only recently won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her work in Ghost. But the success of Sister Act wasn’t always such a sure thing. Bette Midler turned down the chance to star. And even an Oscar-winning filmmaker chose not to direct Goldberg in the comedy.

‘Sister Act’ star Whoopi Goldberg pushes up her sunglasses
‘Sister Act’ star Whoopi Goldberg | ROBIN UTRECHT/AFP

Whoopi Goldberg led ‘Sister Act’ to box office success

Goldberg has been an iconic star for decades. But even so, Sister Act shocked the world by being one of 1992’s highest-grossing movies. Based on a reported production budget of $31 million, the movie brought in $232 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. Moreover, a sequel and stage musical adaptation eventually followed.

1993’s Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit made less than half of its predecessor. But it still maintains a devoted cult following, particularly from 1990s kids and Lauryn Hill fans. And the stage musical — which debuted in 2006 — received strong reviews and tons of accolades, including numerous Tony Award nominations. One director missed the chance to participate.

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

Why Pedro Almodóvar didn’t want to direct the movie

Filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar doesn’t seem like a natural fit for a Goldberg comedy. The filmmaker is best known for heady dramas and harrowing thrillers such as All About My Mother, Volver, Pain and Glory, and — most recently — Oscar nominee Parallel Mothers. But as wild as it might be knowing what fans now know about his work, Almodóvar nearly directed Sister Act. So why didn’t he accept the project at the time?

“Maybe it’s because I didn’t trust my English,” Almodóvar told The New Yorker of his decision to turn down Hollywood films like Sister Act and Brokeback Mountain after the success of his 1988 film Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. “Or maybe it’s because, even though they always tell me I’ll have artistic liberty, final cut, there is always a moment when I don’t believe it.”

Could Whoopi Goldberg direct ‘Sister Act 3’ herself?

For the longest time, rumors of the franchise’s return have swirled around, particularly after the success of the stage musical. Now Deadline reported in late 2021 that Goldberg is officially signed to star in Sister Act 3, with Tyler Perry producing. But one big question is who will step into the director’s chair this time around.

Certainly, Almodóvar is even less likely now than in the early 1990s to step into the comedy franchise. But one lingering notion has Goldberg also directing the new movie. She even expressed interest in doing so to Yahoo! in 2017. And with no clear indication who might direct the third movie, perhaps Goldberg will finally get her wish.

RELATED: Fans Are Not Happy That Tyler Perry Is Producing Whoopi Goldberg’s New ‘Sister Act 3’ Film