1. - Bob Goldthwait, The Burglar, 1987. After arriving in The Colour Purple, Whoopi made it clear: “No hookers, no Mammies, no Hollywood racial stereotypes.” Instead, she played cops, burglars - and men. "Actors did it in Shakespearean times." She was set to be Bruce Willis' sidekick here. He quit, killing the project until she said: "l can do this." And Goldthwait became the sidekick.
2. - Sam Elliot, Fatal Beauty, 1987. "With the exception of two, my movies were never written for me. There's no such thing as a Whoopi Goldberg part and I like that. I really believe that the art of acting is being able to do anything - whatever comes down. I was supposed to be the sidekick again until they made it a female Clint Eastwood! I'd like to play Bob Marley."
3. - Robin Wright, The Princess Bride, 1987. Not seriously considered by anyone - except Whoopi.
4. - CCH Pounder, Out of Rosenheim (aka Bagdad Café), Germany, 1989. Ready for anything, Whoopi made a rotten choice. No - to movie by Bavarian director Percy Adlon. Yes - to the short-lived TV series based on it.
5. - Joan Cusack, Working Girl, 1988. "I'm more of a character actress. Not a star. Stars don't work enough for me."
6. - Witney Houston, The Bodyguard, 1992. Marsha Norman re-wrote Lawerence Kasdan’s Steve McQueen-Diana Ross into Rutger Hauer looking after Whoopi. "But," said a keen Goldberg, "they didn't want Rutger. And my attitude is I can play anything."
7. - Jim Carrey, Ace Ventura, Pet Detective, 1993. Jim ran with it and has never stopped running since...
8. - Melanie Griffith, Born Yesterday, 1993. Announced in 1986 opposite Walter Matthau for Garson Kanin's re-scripted version for Canon - "the company of the future" with no future.
9. - Lily Tomlin, And The Band Played On, 1993. The HBO film of Randy Shilt's history of AIDS lay dormant until Richard Gere, then Whoopi agreed to star. And then she fell out... "I only got in it," said Lily, "because Whoopi got sick. I stepped in at the last minute. I was glad. I wanted to be in it."
10 - Nathan Lane, The Lion King, 1994. Ernie Sabella and Lane supplied such great voice-routines for the hyenas, they were promoted to Timon and Pumbaa. Cheech Marin and Whoopi were moved to the hyenas.
11 - Jane Horrocks, Bring Me The Head of Mavis Davis, 1997. The unfunny UK comedy needed her... But John Henderson dug his heels in for Jane. "I wanted a woman-next-door who could be funny, sing and rip my heart out. Whoopi hasn't lived next door to anybody for 40 years... If a film is to work, it has to touch you." Mavis touched no one.
12 - Queen Latifah, Chicago, 2002.
13 - Jill Scott, The #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, TV, 2008-09. Whoopie, Queen Latifah and TV tycoon Oprah Winfrey were overly obvious choices while Grammy-winning singer Scott proved totally refreshing as novelist Alexander McCall Smith’s amateur but canny Botswana ‘tec, Mma Precious Ramotswe. The pilot was the last work of Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack. Apparently, 18 African actresses were also tested; no one seems to have logged their names.