Looking back now, it’s clear that no one else could have played The Kid in 1984’s Purple Rain. I mean, it’s loosely or at least in part inspired by Prince’s life. But when director Albert Magnoli was shopping the film to Warner Bros., the studio had another candidate in mind for the lead role.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Magnoli revealed that the Purple One was not the first choice for the film. While meeting with the studio head and other executives, it was suggested that a big name actor take the lead instead. “‘Is it possible to ask if John Travolta can play Prince?'” he recalled execs asking. “I looked at [Prince’s managers] and thought, ‘This is what I’m talking about. Welcome to this world.'”
The then recent film school graduate stood his ground and refused to go along with that idea. “I said to the Warners guys, ‘Guys, this is not going to happen. This is unacceptable. What we have going for us is authenticity.'” Thankfully, the studio listened and we were blessed with not only a magical film, but a stellar soundtrack to boot. But even after sticking with Prince, the studio had some other reservations about the flick.
“The development people came to me and said, ‘The script is sexist and misogynistic and violent and erotic, and it puts down women.’ They’re looking at a PG-13 concept. I’m saying, ‘No, it’s an R. It’s a brutal story with a lot of darkness in it.'”
Again they backed down, further proving that executives really shouldn’t have that much creative control over a project.