Before Geena Davis donned the iconic white dress uniform and brought the Rockford Peaches to victory, another actress was actually meant to take her place in A League of Their Own. Debra Winger was first tapped to lead the 1992 baseball flick, but according to a recent interview with The Telegraph, dropped out when she heard word that Madonna was joining the cast.
Winger revealed that she spent a hardcore three months training with the Chicago Cubs to prep for the role, learning the ways of baseball so she could hit her own home runs in Penny Marshall‘s sports film. But even after her training, as soon as Madonna was cast in a main role, Winger quickly stepped down. The reason? She believed a pop star in the film would cause it to become “an Elvis [Presley] film.”
“The studio agreed with me because it was the only time I ever collected a pay-or-play on my contract,” Winger said. “In other words, I collected my pay even though I did not play, and that’s very hard to get in a court.”
The three-time Oscar nominee went on to slam the film, saying she didn’t believe it brought enough to the table in terms of telling real-life athletes’ stories.
“As entertaining as [the final film] was, you don’t walk away going, ‘Wow, those women did that,'” she said. “You kind of go, ‘Is that true?'”
Winger did state that while most of the stars didn’t do quite enough training, Davis “did OK” in the part she was originally meant to play. “I certainly don’t begrudge any of them,” Winger said.
But the actress had to sink one final strike against the beloved film. Winger railed Madonna in true passive-aggressive style, knocking her for her inability to play ball. When asked to comment on the pop star’s performance, Winger simply said: “I think [her] acting career has spoken for itself.” Yikes.
A League of Their Own made box office history as the first movie directed by a woman to gross $100 million. Marshall’s film was also selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2012.
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