Debra Winger earned her first Academy Award nomination for Best Actress with her performance in “An Officer and a Gentleman,” but she revealed in a new interview with The Telegraph that some people on set were dissatisfied with her work because she looked “puffy in the dailies.” Someone involved with the production came to her on set with water retention pills to help her lose some weight so she would be skinnier in the film, which cast her as Richard Gere’s love interest.
“I was so young I didn’t even know what it was, and I just handed it back and said ‘I’m not taking that,’” Debra said. “It just sounded ridiculous to me. But somebody else could have really succumbed.”
When asked where the confidence to reject Hollywood marching orders came from, Winger responded, “I certainly wasn’t taught that by my mother. I didn’t have great men around me, growing up. I just felt strong [enough] to say no to these fucking assholes.”
Winger’s Oscar nomination for “An Officer and a Gentleman” was the first of three in the Best Actress category. She earned her second Oscar nom a year later for “Terms of Endearment,” and a third Oscar nom for the 1993 biographical drama “Shadowlands.”
Another revelation in Winger’s Telegraph interview is that she trained with the Chicago Cubs for three months to prepare for the lead role in “A League Of Their Own,” but she exited the movie after director Penny Marshall cast Madonna. Winger said Marshall made “an Elvis film,” which is not what she signed up for, adding, “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?’” Geena Davis took over for Winger.
“The studio agreed with me because it was the only time I ever collected a pay-or-play on my contract,” Winger added. “In other words, I collected my pay even though I did not play, and that’s very hard to get in a court.”
Winger most recently starred in Miranda July’s acclaimed “Kajillionaire” and currently has a supporting role on Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Apple TV+ series “Mr. Corman.”