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Prince Was Offered ‘The Fifth Element’ Role But Thought His Costume Was ‘Too Effeminate’

Prince Was Offered ‘The Fifth Element’ Role But Thought His Costume Was ‘Too Effeminate’

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“The Fifth Element,” the zany, much loved sci-fi film directed by Luc Bessson and starring Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich, may have been remembered very differently if history had taken a different turn. That’s because the role of Ruby Rhod, memorably and histrionically played by Chris Tucker, wasoriginally offered to none other than Prince, the recently departed rock god that the world has been mourning since his sudden death last week.

The role of the theatrical Ruby Rhod would seem seem to have fit Prince perfectly, but the artist declined the part. For one thing he thought that the proposed costume, designed by Jean Paul Gaultier, was “too effeminate,” according to Gaultier himself. Concept sketches of what Prince’s costume would have looked like have been made public as part of the Brooklyn Museum’s Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition, and the designer shared his memory of his awkward meeting with Prince and of showing him the sketches, which proposed a costume that was all fishnets, hair, and prominent caboose.

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According to Gizmodo, Gaultier recalled his encounter with Prince thusly:

I showed him my drawings, but he didn’t say a word. I had had an idea for a really funny costume with netting which quite long body hair would pass through, and I had done front and back versions of it. So then I explained to Prince: “Eet eel fake ‘air, you know, and eet eel beaucoup, beaucoup, airy, vraiment fun, and ze back is made of sat, and on ze back were eez ze faux cul, you know, a very big faux cul.” and I slapped my buttocks to show him how the back of the costume would be designed.

Still not saying anything, Prince gave me this Charlie Chaplin kind of look. I could see that something had just happened, but I didn’t know what — only that he had indicated to his body guard that he wanted to leave right then and there. I thought he was going to go and see Luc. Later, Luc told me that Prince had been very surprised and amused by my presentation, but that he found the costumes a bit too effeminate. And, most importantly, he had thought he heard “Fuck you, fuck you!” when I was saying in my terrible English accent “faux cul, faux cul” [fake ass]!

What might have been.

 

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