From Whoopi To Fantasia: 'The Color Purple' Cast Then And Now

The original movie was released on this day in 1985.

There are a handful of films that are iconic in cinematic history, and the period drama "The Color Purple," based on Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name is one of them. Thanks largely in part to the exceptional cast, the film — which arrived theaters in on this day in 1985 — was a major success. Decades later, "The Color Purple" has lived on in two different Broadway shows and productions worldwide. This Christmas, a new theatrical version of "The Color Purple" will be released as a musical and it has already received Golden Globe nominations.

Directed by Blitz Bazawule, the new cast includes Fantasia, Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks, Colman Domingo, Corey Hawkins, H.E.R., Halle Bailey, Fantasia Barrino and more. Brace yourself for powerhouse acting and otherworldly vocals. Here, we look back at the cast from 1985 and the cast from 2023. 

  • Celie

    Whoopi Goldberg was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of Celie. Fantasia played Celie in a Broadway version of "The Color Purple" to rave reviews. Fantasia on the big screen with her anointed voice is sure to be soul-stirring. 

  • Young Nettie

    Halle Bailey will play a younger version of Nettie, Celie's sister. Akosua Busia brought Nettie to life in the 1985 version. 

  • Adult Nettie

    Ciara is tackling the role of older Nettie (Busia played both younger and older Nettie in 1985), who fights her whole life to reconnect with her sister. 

  • Squeak

    Rae Down Chong was Squeak in 1985. H.E.R. will portray Squeak in the musical version.

  • Sofia

    Oprah Winfrey, who serves as producer on the new version, earned an Oscar nod for her riveting portrayal of Sofia. Danielle Brooks earned a Tony nomination for her Broadway performance of Sofia and now she is reprising the role. This iconic character delivers one of the most famous lines in movie and stage history, "All my life I have to fight..."

  • Mister

    Danny Glover brought Mister to life in 1985. The insanely talented Colman Domingo is Mister in the musical. If you aren't familiar with Mr. Domingo, be prepared to be blown away.

  • Older Mister

    For older Mister, Oscar winner Louis Gossett Jr. is the older version of Celie's abusive husband. 

  • Shug Avery

    Margaret Avery slayed as Shug Avery -- a role that Tina Turner repeatedly turned down -- now it's Taraji P. Henson's turn. You may not known of  Henson as a singer, but she has the range. 

  • Harpo

    In 1985, Willard E. Pugh played Harpo Johnson. This time around, Corey Hawkins, best known for playing Dr. Dre in "Straight Outta Compton," will play Harpo.

  • 'The Color Purple'

    "The Color Purple" opens Christmas Day, watch the trailer above.

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