We’re not exaggerating when we say Oprah has the power to make the next big thing. This was the case with director Lee Daniels, as she co-produced his 2009 film Precious and threw her impressive clout behind promoting the film. It worked, and Precious became the hot topic of the year, receiving six Academy Award nominations and taking home two of those golden statues. Oprah has now reunited with Daniels on The Butler, stepping onscreen for the first time since 1998’s Beloved. Feeling a bit rusty, Oprah recently admitted to taking Daniels’ advice about hiring an acting coach, but she wasn’t about to let him tell her to strip down for the part.
In the historical drama, Oprah plays the devoted wife of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), the White House’s head butler. Committed to doing her best in the role, Oprah hired Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman’s acting coach at Daniels’ suggestion. Calling acting an instrument at a Q&A with Daniels and Whitaker, she said: “It’s a hard thing, to pick up the instrument and to go do it again.” Plus, it’s not like she was resting on her laurels, jokingly pointing out she didn’t have the time to keep practicing as she “was trying to build a network.”
Though she agreed with Daniels about the coaching, she drew the line when it came to stripping down. In one love scene, Daniels originally wanted Oprah in her “panties and bra,” adamantly saying: “And I was not going to let her talk me out of it.” Of course, Oprah did. It wasn’t for reasons of modesty, but because Oprah didn’t believe her character would act that way. As she explained: “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.” Makes sense, but the real point is don’t try and think you can talk Oprah into doing something she doesn’t want to do.