Whoopi Goldberg opened up to Variety about her experience being cast as Oda Mae Brown in the 1990 hit film, Ghost. Among her co-stars were Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze, and she explained that Swayze fought for her to land the role. His efforts were well worth it, as Goldberg was highly praised for her portrayal of the character.
Goldberg was up against some serious competition
The character Oda Mae Brown was a psychic who had opened a store in Brooklyn where she worked as a spiritual advisor. In the film, Oda Mae had not yet experienced a spiritual connection when she opened her business, but soon found that she could communicate with the deceased Sam Wheat, famously played by Patrick Swayze.
When the Oda Mae Brown role was open for auditions, Goldberg made the list of potential actresses who could fill the part. However, she was up against some powerhouses that included Patti LaBelle and Tina Turner. While reminiscing about this time in her career, Goldberg explained that Swayze had advocated for her to get the role.
Swayze and Goldberg connected very quickly
Swayze was fighting in Goldberg’s corner and actually flew to Alabama – where she was working at the time – with the film’s director, Jerry Zucker, to run lines together. Zucker once recalled that casting for the film was “agonizing,” but that Goldberg was particularly good at hitting her character’s comedic lines. It certainly helped that she felt an instant connection with Swayze. “He and I just took to each other,” she later explained.
Swayze’s efforts paid off, as Goldberg soon began to suggest lines for the role that ended up being written into the film’s script. She and Swayze also connected on a personal level, and they’d often joke about how the film would ultimately turn out. She said they would laugh together and wonder if it was “the dopiest thing we’ve ever done.”
Ghost was an immediate success
Ghost was a huge success at the time of its 1990 release. The film had a budget of around $23 million, but achieved a gross profit of $505 million worldwide and became the highest grossing film of the year. At that time it was the third-highest-grossing film in history.
The blockbuster was also a major success at the 1991 Academy Awards. It was nominated for five different awards, winning two. It won Best Original Screenplay, and Goldberg won Best Supporting Actress for her role as Oda Mae. This achievement was huge, as she became the first Black woman to win an Oscar in 50 years.
Channing Tatum is poised to star in the remake
A possible remake may be in the works thanks to Channing Tatum and his production company, Free Association. The company has the rights to the film, and Tatum is seriously considering remaking it with a few changes. “We’re going to do something different,” he explained.
“Now I know why they put [pottery-making] in Ghost,” Tatum joked while discussing the original film’s most iconic scene. “This whole process is very, very sexual.” If there is indeed a remake on the way, we could possibly see Tatum inherit the role of Sam Wheat from Swayze.