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Bestseller gives acting buddies a helping hand

Walking into their Merrion Hotel room, the first thing you notice about Tate Taylor and Octavia Spencer is their smiles. The two of them have wide-eyed grins that just won't stop. They've got lottery-winner smiles.

And that's because the duo have pretty much won the lottery. The Hollywood lottery. Thanks to the phenomenal success of their movie, The Help, these long-term buddies have just scored one of the biggest box-office success stories of the year.

Here's a $25m movie that has already made more than $160m at the US box office alone. And that number is still climbing, just as The Help is being unleashed upon the rest of the world.


"I've been on the road promoting this movie since the end of August," says Taylor, "so, it feels like all that success is happening somewhere else, and to someone else ... I'm looking forward to the day when I can sit down with a drink, and take it all in ... "

"Then again," interrupts Spencer, "we're in Ireland, talking about this movie. And there are more countries to come. That certainly gives you a firm idea that we're having some kind of crazy success."

Based on Kathryn Stockett's 2009 bestselling debut novel, The Help is set during America's civil rights movement of the 1960s, centering on a group of black maids and the southern belles they have to cook, clean and child-rear for.


Taylor got his hands on Stockett's book before it was published, and he's happy to admit that he had little work to do when it came to adapting "these 500 delicious pages without an ounce of fluff" for the big screen.

"When we walked away from making this film in Greenwood, Mississippi, last year," he says. "We knew we had something special. I definitely felt we'd get the book crowd in there, and the rest would be gravy. I just didn't realise there would be so much gravy."

It was back in 1995, on the set of the Grisham adaptation A Time To Kill, that Taylor and Spencer first met.

"We knew straight away that we were going to be good friends," says Spencer. "We've been bugging each other ever since. We were roommates in LA for four years, and we're basically siblings at this stage."

Taylor is putting his acting career on hold to try to find that all-important follow-up directing project.

The quiet Spencer, on the other hand, has, tellingly, five movies heading our way over the coming year. "It's good to be busy," she smiles. "Especially when I'm now getting the lead role ... " >Paul Byrne

The Help is in Irish cinemas now