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Showgirls Director Explains Why He Cast “Innocent” Elizabeth Berkley, Takes Blame For Her “Over-The-Top” Performance

article-2158333-1393ACCD000005DC-212_634x433In terms of casting the movie, one of the main concerns, next to acting, was the dancing and nudity — both of those elements being extreme. The actress would have to be able to dance. And she also had to be willing to show full-frontal throughout the film. These elements, especially the nudity, are extremely difficult for American actresses to accept. And Elizabeth Berkley was the only actress that combined all three.

I had never seen Saved by the Bell, so that didn’t count too much for me. I chose her because she was the right choice. There was no competition. It was clear that, after months of looking for somebody, we had found Nomi Malone. It’s probably true that casting her in a part so different from how American audiences knew her affected the box office. But I didn’t know that series, and I had no idea what kind of character she played in it. It was really the auditions that ultimately made us decide to go that way. Perhaps it was not so handy from a publicity point of view, but you could also say that it was a brilliant idea to cast an ‘innocent.’

People have, of course, criticized her for being over-the-top in her performance. Most of that comes from me. I pushed it in that direction. Good or not good, I was the one who asked her to exaggerate everything — every move — because that was the element of style that I thought would work for the movie.”

 

Director Paul Verhoven speaking with Rolling Stone on the 20th anniversary of his enduring bad-movie-we-love Showgirls