independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Daniels nervous directing Oprah

Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey star in The Butler, directed by Lee Daniels

Lee Daniels has admitted he was nervous directing Oprah Winfrey in The Butler at first.

The talk show host and media mogul - who was nominated for an Oscar for her role in Steven Spielberg's 1985 film The Color Purple - stars opposite Forest Whitaker as the wife of long-serving White House butler Cecil Gaines in Lee's new movie.

But even though the Precious director is friends with Oprah he confessed he was worried at first about giving direction to such a strong personality.

"I was nervous, I was really nervous in the beginning," Lee admitted. "Because I realise that she's 'Oprah!' and it's like 'Oh lord, what have I gone and done this time? I think I've bitten off too much'.

"She hadn't used her instrument in a while and then she became vulnerable and fragile and nervous and scared, and I felt the need to take care of her."

The film boasts a stellar cast including Vanessa Redgrave, Jane Fonda and Robin Williams, and Lee revealed there was a very low budget, so a lot of the actors took the role because of their dedication to telling the story.

He revealed: "I think Oprah lost money really, I think she paid me to be on this movie, really! She shut everything down to be on this movie."

The script was written by Danny Strong and based on a true story of Eugene Allen who worked in the White House for 34 years and served nine US Presidents. Before Lee took over the helm Steven Spielberg had been in talks to direct.

Lee revealed: "I didn't beat him, he probably passed. I know it was me and Steven Spielberg but I can't imagine beating him at anything, I think I probably got his backwash. I'll take it, got any more Steve? A brother needs some help!"

:: The Butler is in cinemas now.

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