The Real Reason Debra Winger Quit A League Of Their Own

Oscar-nominated actor Debra Winger is taking a swing at a huge star in revealing why she gave up a role in the memorable sports film "A League of Their Own."

The actor, who has been nominated for three Academy Awards, was originally cast to play baseball catcher Dottie Henson in the 1992 comedy-drama —  starring Geena Davis, Lori Petty, Tom Hanks, and Rosie O'Donnell — that told the story of sisters joining the first female professional baseball league. According to USA Today, "A League of Their Own" was the first female-directed film to gross $100 million, prompting the beloved sports film to be "selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2012."

The honor, however, wasn't enough for Winger, who was first cast to play Henson (Davis famously went on to play the part.) As Winger told The Telegraph in August 2021 (per USA Today), "As entertaining as [the final film] was, you don't walk away going, 'Wow, those women did that.' You kind of go, 'Is that true?'" The actor's harsh criticism didn't stop there, as Winger claimed the stars' athletic abilities were merely "okay." While she said she "certainly" doesn't "begrudge them," she also revealed the one huge star that stopped her from joining the cast altogether.

Debra Winger didn't want to be in an 'Elvis film'

Directed by the late Penny Marshall, "A League of Their Own" followed fictional catcher Dottie Henson and her strides of joining the first female national baseball league. To prepare for her role, actor Debra Winger claimed she spent three months in baseball training with the Chicago Cubs, but eventually quit due to one huge star joining the film... Madonna.

That's right: The "Urban Cowboy" star was so unhappy with the casting of the Grammy-winning pop artist that she quit the film. Her reasoning? Winger claimed to The Telegraph, per CNN, that the casting of Madonna would turn "A League of Their Own" into "an Elvis [Presley] film." She further claimed that "the studio agreed with me because it was the only time I ever collected a pay-or-play on my contract." Winger continued, "in other words, I collected my pay even though I did not play, and that's very hard to get in a court."

Madonna was cast as Mae Mordabito (center fielder) in the 90's film. "I think [her] acting career has spoken for itself," said Winger. (That being said, Madonna did win Best Actress for her role in "Evita" at the 1997 Golden Globes.) And ironically enough, Winger wasn't the first actor pitched to play the role of Dottie Henson. As USA Today reports, Marshall first wanted Demi Moore to star in the film, but the actor was pregnant.