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Elizabeth Berkley: Showgirls Release Was “More Painful Than Anything You Can Imagine”

Elizabeth Berkley in Showgirls
Elizabeth Berkley at last made peace with Showgirls' notoriety at a 20th anniversary screening  

It took 20 years, but Elizabeth Berkley finally got the Showgirls moment she always dreamed of. On Saturday, June 27, just a few months shy of the movie’s 20th anniversary, the Saved by the Bell actress was the guest of honor at a Hollywood Forever Cemetery screening in L.A., where thousands of fans gathered to watch (and cheer) the box-office bomb-turned-cult favorite flick.

Introducing the film on Saturday night, Berkley, now 42, reflected on the “extraordinary” experience of making the movie, recalling how she actively pursued the role of Nomi Malone, only to be ridiculed for it when the film came out in September 1995.

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“When a dream is happening, it’s unlike anything you can ever imagine. Which is why when the movie came out it was more painful than anything you can imagine,” she began, alluding to the scores of poor reviews. (As recently as 2013, she referred to the reception as “humiliating” and hurtful.)

“I’m not going to spend a lot of time on that moment, because why do that? We don’t live in the past,” the actress continued. “I’m just bringing it up for a point to tell you that 1995 was such a different time, where taking risks like that were not embraced. They were laughed at, they were shamed, publicly. To be a young girl in the center of that was something that was quite difficult. But I found my own resiliency and my power and my confidence…” 

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Elizabeth Berkley and Gina Gershon in Showgirls
Elizabeth Berkley and Gina Gershon in Showgirls

Berkley credited the fans with helping her to come to terms with the movie’s reputation, and for giving her the screening she always wanted, two decades after the fact.

“Tonight is like this magical full-circle moment, where I actually didn’t get to experience the sweetness of a screening with a crowd that embraced it. Tonight I want to thank you guys for giving me this gift of truly getting a full-circle moment of experiencing the joy with you,” she told the crowd. “Because you guys and the love you have for this movie have this the cult film that it is.”

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She went on to say that one of the reasons she loves the movie so much is that other people love it, too, even if the critics didn’t.

“And whether this film has been your guilty pleasure, whether you have played ‘Pin the Pasties on the Showgirl,’ or whether Nomi’s own plight and her fight and struggle has become your own anthem in your life, I hope that it’s brought you comfort, I hope that it’s brought you joy, I hope that you’ve made incredible memories with your friends watching it cozy on your couch,” she shared. 

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“I hope that you’ve over-lined your lips and put glitter on like crazy. I hope that when you eat your french fries you go crazy like Nomi,” she continued. “I hope that you grab life and go Andrew Carver on its ass. And just know that I love you guys so much and appreciate you, and thank you for giving me strength and confidence in becoming the woman that I am.”

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