Cher was initially considered for the role the late Aaliyah played as Queen Akasha in the 2002 film Queen of the Damned.
Director Michael Rymer, 58, opened up about the casting process for the film to Vulture in a new report detailing the history of the 2002 film.
Rymer said that ‘the movie was not green-lit until we figured out the casting,’ and that he met with the 75-year-old entertainment legend about a potential appearance in the motion picture.
The latest: Cher, 75, was initially considered for the role the late Aaliyah played as Queen Akasha in the 2002 film Queen of the Damned. She was snapped in LA last month
‘I had a number of meetings with actresses, including Cher,’ he said, noting that ‘Cher was reportedly considered for a role in Interview With a Vampire,’ which was also based on the work of novelist Anne Rice.
Rymer recalled the details of his meeting with the Oscar-winning entertainer at her luxe Southern California abode.
‘I drove out to her Malibu house and went through this vast series of Spanish Colonial rooms,’ he told the outlet. ‘There she is sitting in this chair, and she really was already quite a viable Akasha.’
He continued: ‘I just had a very strong belief that if we were going to do African queens, we had to have a person of color. I said that to the studio, and we made these long lists – Halle Berry, Regina King, an embarrassment of riches.’
The film was released in February of 2002, about six months after Aaliyah’s tragic death
Aaliyah had garnered interest for the role from the studio after thriving in the 2000 film Romeo Must Die; pictured alongside the late DMX
Rymer noted how studio officials ‘were very excited about her as a burgeoning actress’ as she was in Vancouver at the time shooting the film Romeo Must Die.
Producer Jorge Saralegui noted how Aaliyah ‘was proposed by the studio as a big name to hang the movie on, given that the movie wasn’t going to be that expensive.’
Rymer recalled details of meeting Aaliyah in Vancouver and prepping her for the film role.
‘She was lovely,’ the filmmaker said. ‘I said, “Look, I’m very serious about this, but I need to know that you can pull this off, for your sake as well as mine. Will you go through a process with me before I say to the studio that I think it’ll work?” And she said, “Absolutely.” So I put that poor girl through the wringer.
‘I got her to learn a monologue from Oscar Wilde’s Salomé and then I had her separately working on Egyptian accents. By the end of the process, I had her reciting Oscar Wilde in a very exaggerated Egyptian accent, crawling around on her knees like a calf. I was like, “All right, you are such a trooper. You’re gonna go the distance.”‘
Cher remained active in her music career at the time, and made appearances on the TV show Will & Grace and in the 2003 comedy Stuck on You before headlining the 2010 film Burlesque opposite Christina Aguilera
RIP: Aaliyah tragically died at 22 in a plane crash August 25, 2001 outside of the Bahamas
Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura told the outlet that ‘there was something about Aaliyah in this material that gave it momentum and a hipness’ as he noted the acting talents she drew upon in front of the camera.
‘She has schoolgirl charm, she has sophistication, she has sexy, she has imposing, she has all these different qualities,’ he said. ‘When you say, “Okay, who can be the Queen of the Damned?,” that’s a good list of qualities.’
Aaliyah, who tragically died at 22 in a plane crash August 25, 2001 outside of the Bahamas, spoke about the mechanics of the role in an on-set interview as she made the film.
‘I think everybody has a bit of a fascination with the dark side, and I myself have always loved the dark side as well,’ the late singer said of playing Queen Akasha, according to the outlet. ‘It’s fun to just be that mean, evil, and see how far you can really go.’
Cher remained active in her music career at the time, and made appearances on the TV show Will & Grace and in the 2003 comedy Stuck on You before headlining the 2010 film Burlesque opposite Christina Aguilera.