Photo Credit: Ben Rose/WireImage
Oprah Winfrey is having a big month -- in more ways than one. On Aug. 18, she'll air her big interview with Lindsay Lohan. On the cover of the new O Magazine, she's wearing a very big wig (3.5 pounds!). And on Aug. 16, she'll be starring in one of summer's biggest movies: The Butler, director Lee Daniels' historical epic about a slave-turned-White House employee (played by Forrest Whitaker). Watch the trailer below!
If you've been following Oprah's career at all, you know that she doesn't do much acting. In fact, she hasn't had a starring role in a major motion picture since The Color Purple, which earned her an Oscar nomination in 1986. Now she's getting Oscar buzz again -- but in interviews promoting the film, Winfrey makes it clear that the process was not easy.
For one thing, director Daniels -- the guy who made Nicole Kidman pee on Zac Efron in The Paperboy -- likes to push actors' boundaries. He wanted Oprah, who plays Whitaker's wife and has a flirtation with Terrence Howard's character, to do a love scene, then smoke a cigarette in her bra and panties. To which Oprah responded: no way.
"First of all, she’s a mother and she loves her husband, so she’s not gonna be sitting up in the middle of the day watching her soaps in her bra and panties, smoking. And once she does, the audience can never forgive her," Oprah explained to the audience at a screening.
She did rise to another of Daniels' challenges: crying on cue. But she had to hire an acting coach to do it.
"Everybody thinks that I’m a good crier, an easy crier, because I cry, I cry," joked Winfrey. "Gayle at one point called during the Oprah years, and said, 'You’re cryin’ too damn much. Every day I turn on the TV, you’re cryin’ over something.' ... So I can cry if I’m in the moment with somebody and feeling it, but as an actress that was one of my biggest fears. So [acting coach] Susan came in to help me be able to cry on cue."
She also had difficulty taking direction from Daniels because she's, you know, Oprah. She's not used to other people being in charge!
"In the beginning it was [hard to direct her]," Daniels told the press. "Too many damn questions! Oprah is just full of questions. ... They’re in the bed -- it’s the scene where she and Forest were together and they’re making love. So she looks around and she says, 'What time is it?' I said, 'It doesn’t matter what time it is. 'What time is it, Lee?' I said, 'It doesn’t matter. You’re getting laid. Shut up!' She pulled the covers up over her head."
Ha! We love that Oprah was such a diva on set. Because she's earned it. Her whole career, she has put 110% of herself into everything she does, and it seems that acting is no exception. In fact, that's probably why she's made so few films: she knew she wouldn't be able to focus all of her energy on a movie while still running her media empire. But now that her talk show is over, her magazine is a hit and her network is no longer struggling, Oprah has time for passion projects. We're dying to see what she does with this role.
Regardless of whether she earns another Oscar nomination, Hollywood needs more women like Winfrey: a strong, driven, take-charge lady who knows what makes good entertainment and won't let anyone push her around. Now that she's conquered the media world, Hollywood may be Oprah's next frontier. Let's all welcome her with open arms!