Liza Minnelli As Evita?

Categories: Film

It almost happened.

I just caught up with Altered States, the autobiography of the late visionary director Ken Russell, and he talks about being assigned to do a movie of Evita in the early 1980s, possibly with musical theater actress Elaine Paige as the leading lady.

But he felt Paige was not nearly earthy or moving enough to pull it off.

Russell asked Barbra Streisand if she might be interested, but as he wrote, "I don't think the idea of a Jewish princess playing a Catholic whore exactly appealed to her." No kidding.

And then he tested Liza.

The producer, Robert Stigwood, rushed the Oscar winner into a screen test--time was running out on the search and they were getting frantic--so she had to perform it in an ill-fitting wig they stuck on her, plus jeans and a T shirt.

And she was astounding.

"Here was a woman who could start a revolution and sway a nation," wrote Russell.

"And when she reached her climax with an orgasmic 'I'm coming,' so was everyone else in the place--man, woman, or dog."

Well, Stigwood watched all the screen tests and Russell waited for him to say "It's Liza, obviously." But he bizarrely insisted on Elaine Paige.

Russell refused and the movie was never made.

Until Madonna did it, of course, and she was fine, but I'm suddenly haunted by what could have been if Liza had played the part.

(And she and Goldie Hawn were all set for Chicago at one point too.)

Oh, well. Woulda shoulda coulda. Don't cry for her, Argentina.

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Babs turned it down? I find that hard to believe. There was a lot of publicity when they finally made the movie that said she was desperate for the part. And anyway, she must have known there wouldn't be that many more chances for her to do a big musical.


Liza would've had a hard time erasing "Sally Bowles" from everyone's minds though..Cabaret was "just" 10yrs prior and an icon.

bethesda topcommenter

A lot of lost opportunities for miss M, but she did well, considering.


barbra a princess? that´s a joke-right?


Elaine Paige? Are they nuts?


Oh wait, maybe she just didn't want to work with Ken Russell after seeing The Boy Friend and Tommy. Two egos that size couldn't fit in the same room.