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Showgirls: Charlize Theron was almost cast in Elizabeth Berkley role

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Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Twenty years after Showgirls, director Paul Verhoven has revealed that Charlize Theron could have landed the controversial lead role of Nomi Malone.

“Charlize also auditioned, and I don’t recall her having any problem with the nudity at all. 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,” he said in an interview with the New York Daily News. “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 [Berkley].”

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The filmmaker added, “She was very lucky that she did not get the part. I wish Charlize congratulations for that because it would have been a miserable 20 years for her!”

Theron has confirmed this brush (dodged bullet?) with Showgirls, revealing in 2008 that it was only the second audition she ever went on.

“From what I hear, they really liked me,” she told MTV. “I think the talks fell through with the actress [Berkley] that ended up doing it, and so they reopened it up and started casting it again, and that’s when I came in. And then they somehow sorted out that deal. But at some point [director] Paul [Verhoeven] was interested in me doing it, yeah.”

Berkley, who was best known for Saved by the Bell before landing Showgirls, was slammed for her performance. And in the new interview, Verhoven apologized to his leading actress.

“Hollywood turned their backs on her,” he said of Berkley. “If somebody has to be blamed, it should be me because I thought that it was interesting to portray someone like that.”

But despite the notoriety, Berkley has made peace with appearing in the infamous film.

“I really do want you to know this movie is something I love, but I love it because you love it too,” Berkley said during an anniversary screening earlier this year. “Whether this film has been your guilty pleasure, whether you have played ‘Pin the Pasties on the Showgirl,’ or whether Nomi’s own plight and her fight and struggle has become your own anthem in your life, I hope that it’s brought you comfort, I hope that it’s brought you joy, I hope that you have made incredible memories with your friends watching it cozy on your couch. I hope you’ve over-lined your lips and put glitter on like crazy. I hope when you eat your french fries you go crazy like Nomi.”

Head to the Daily News for more of Verhoven’s interview.