Before Chris Tucker was cast as the sexual, androgynous Ruby Rhod in “The Fifth Element,” the role was first offered to the late Prince. If you can’t imagine the iconic artist as the character, Jean Paul Gaultier, the costume designer for the film, previously showcased his sketches of what the “Purple Rain” actor would’ve looked like in the role.
The french designer also wrote a note recounting his first experience with the singer – which didn’t go too well.
“One of the thousand costumes in ‘The Fifth Element,’ I took my inspiration for many of them from my own collections,” started Gaultier. “Filming was originally planned for 1992, with Julia Roberts, Mel Gibson and Prince in the leading roles but due to a lack of financing the project was put on hold. At that time, the role of Ruby Rhod, the outrageous media personality finally played by Chris Tucker, had been given to Prince.”
The costume was a bodysuit with netting and long, fake, body hair. But when presented to Prince, the superstar was not impressed and deemed it “too effeminate.”
“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,” detailed the designer. “So then I explained to Prince [in my broken English and French accent]: “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.”
Director Luc Besson later told Gaultier that the “Little Red Corvette” singer had been amused by their conversation but wasn’t really into it. He also stated, “He found the costumes a bit too effeminate. And, most importantly, he had thought he heard “F**k you, f**k you!” when I was saying in my terrible English accent “faux cul, faux cul” [fake ass]!”
Click here to see the sketches and read the entire note.