Casting Lemmons as Bernadette “Bernie” Walsh in the original movie was a wise move, as it further pointed out Madsen’s own white privilege when investigating the mostly Black-populated Cabrini-Green. The casting, however, initially pushed Madsen out of the movie. Madsen was going to play Bernie opposite actress Alexandra Pigg in the role of Helen.
Pigg, married to writer/director Rose, was an actress perhaps best known for the British soap opera “Brookside.” Her career is replete with notable supporting roles opposite big-name actors in smaller projects. Prior to 1992, she was in “Strapless,” “Bullseye!,” and “Chicago Joe and the Showgirl.” Pigg, it turns out, had to drop out of “Candyman” when she became pregnant with her daughter Ruby Rose (not the actress). Helen was then offered to Madsen.
Madsen admits to feeling ambivalent about the situation. She was friends with Pigg and didn’t want to feel like she was stealing something. The actor recounted the entire experience:
“I was going to play the part of Kasi Lemmons, until they made the character African American. Then I was out … Right before shooting, Alexandra found out she was pregnant. It was great for me, but it was so sad for her because this was her role. She found this story and really wanted it. So, when I was asked to step in I felt like ‘I can’t take my friend’s role.’ She actually came over one day and said ‘it would just kill me to see someone else play this role, you HAVE to be the one who plays it.’ So with her blessing I took on the role.”
Madsen eventually agreed, and she wanted to make sure that she wasn’t taking her new gig for granted. “I really tried to work my butt off just to honor her,” she said.