Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: Zac Efron Talks About His Masturbation Techniques In 'The Interview' Segment With James Franco Watch: Zac Efron Talks About His Masturbation Techniques In 'The Interview' Segment With James Franco First Look Images: Patrick Stewart As A Neo-Nazi In 'Blue Ruin' Director Jeremy Saulnier's 'Green Room' & More First Look Images: Patrick Stewart As A Neo-Nazi In 'Blue Ruin' Director Jeremy Saulnier's 'Green Room' & More Watch: Footage From "Sick," Unreleased Marilyn Manson Video, Directed By Eli Roth & Featuring Lana Del Rey Watch: Footage From "Sick," Unreleased Marilyn Manson Video, Directed By Eli Roth & Featuring Lana Del Rey Christopher Nolan Talks 'Interstellar' Twist And Enigmatic Ending Christopher Nolan Talks 'Interstellar' Twist And Enigmatic Ending Review: 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1' Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Philip Seymour Hoffman, And More Review: 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1' Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Philip Seymour Hoffman, And More Steve McQueen's Next Film Will Be About Paul Robeson Steve McQueen's Next Film Will Be About Paul Robeson Watch: First Trailer For 'The Age Of Adaline' Starring Blake Lively, Ellen Burstyn And Harrison Ford Watch: First Trailer For 'The Age Of Adaline' Starring Blake Lively, Ellen Burstyn And Harrison Ford Listen Up, Christopher Nolan Defends Sound Mix On 'Interstellar' Listen Up, Christopher Nolan Defends Sound Mix On 'Interstellar' Official Soundtrack Details For Paul Thomas Anderson's 'Inherent Vice' Revealed Official Soundtrack Details For Paul Thomas Anderson's 'Inherent Vice' Revealed Casting: Shailene Woodley Joins Oliver Stone's Edward Snowden Pic, 'True Detective' Adds Pair & More Casting: Shailene Woodley Joins Oliver Stone's Edward Snowden Pic, 'True Detective' Adds Pair & More Watch: 40-Minute Discovery Channel Special 'The Science Of Interstellar' Narrated By Matthew McConaughey Watch: 40-Minute Discovery Channel Special 'The Science Of Interstellar' Narrated By Matthew McConaughey Review: Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway & More Review: Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway & More 'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies' Will Conclude With A 45-Minute Battle Sequence 'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies' Will Conclude With A 45-Minute Battle Sequence Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Interview: Lee Daniels Talks 'The Butler,' Wanting Oprah Winfrey For 'Prisoners,' His Hip-Hop TV Drama & More

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist November 26, 2013 at 12:03PM

Named by The Hollywood Reporter as one of the top 25 film schools in the country, the Savannah College Of Art & Design grows in stature year by year. The annual Savannah Film Festival—which we attended last month—is the rare event that almost seamlessly marries the glitz of the red carpet with the serious aspirations of the student body. Attending filmmakers and actors often provide masterclasses to students, while the intimacy of Savannah's festivities provide accessibility that larger festivals in bigger cities don't often provide. It's against that backdrop that organizers and officials at SCAD once again brought Hollywood flavor to Georgia.
0
Lee Daniels' The Butler

"The Butler" comes out at a pretty interesting time for black stories in cinema. This year alone we've seen "Fruitvale Station," "Twelve Years a Slave," Spielberg did "Lincoln." These are all true stories but I find it interesting that among this conversation something like "Django Unchained" gets tossed into the mix as well and that's kind of a bit more fantastical. Do you see a disconnect there?
I think that Quentin [Tarantino] is entitled to make his film as I'm entitled to make my film, we're all artists and we all have opinions about it but I don’t like getting misquoted and everything...I want to make sure that I'm clear that he's entitled to do his thing as I am.

"I still have to sing for my supper. I'm not Steven Spielberg by any stretch of the imagination, so I still am just an artist looking for a job and trying to do my best when I get it."

Last Friday was the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination but in 2018 it's going to be fifty years since MLK passed away. I understand you were working on a film about his assassination and I'm just curious if you still are and what story you would want to tell about that.
I wasn't doing a film about his assassination [ed. In July 2012, reports surfaced Daniels and Hugh Jackman were teaming on "Orders To Kill"], I was doing a film about the march ["Selma," now being directed by Ava DuVernay]. My Mom walked in the march and my grandmother walked in the march and I think his life should be celebrated. I think that I'm dying to see the total biopic of King. He is my hero.

At one point you were also looking at "The Scottsboro Boys" film as well, possibly a musical?
Yeah I was I was trying to get that off the ground but it's hard.

You often find yourself collaborating with some unique people who people that you don't generally think of as actors, initially. Musicians like Lenny Kravitz or Mariah Carey, or Oprah Winfrey for example. She's acted before but she doesn’t do it very often. In regards to Ms. Winfrey, I recall you had an exciting idea to do a film where she would play against type. 
It was "Prisoners" that I was hoping I could do and she passed on it and than I lost the job for even suggesting her to the producers. Speaking of Melissa Leo....

 

Do you still find that when you go a studio meeting for example, and you say "I think this person or this person would be great," is there still resistance to trusting your instincts?
First of all, I still have to sing for my supper. I'm not Steven Spielberg by any stretch of the imagination, so I still am just an artist looking for a job and trying to do my best when I get it.

How was your collaboration with screenwriter Danny Strong?
Danny and I had the structure, I sort of told him this is how I feel these people should be, this is how Oprah should be, this is how and he went with me and he's an incredible writer and one of my best friends and he and I are writing something together this time. We're writing a TV show.

That's set in the hip-hop world, right?
Yep.

What are you guys investigating? Is it a chronicle of the history or anything in particular?
It's a black "Dynasty" meets "The Sopranos" with the backdrop of music.

Wow, that's awesome.
Isn't it? I hope it works. He's so magical, Danny is an incredible writer and he, how he was able to nuance the African American experience is rare and appreciated.

The Butler Forest Whitaker Oprah Winfrey

Is there anything about the hip hop world in particular you want to say?
No,it's just about a family. A family struggling to build an empire. Similar to "Dynasty" and the man's problems, the darkness that goes down with trying to build an empire. Trying to get out of...trying to leave the ghetto and make it.

Are you still doing the Sammy Davis Jr. thing over at HBO?
I am. I'm looking for writers now.

Is it going to be a straight up biopic?

Well it's about his music so we're telling the story through music, it's a musical.

Wow, that's fantastic.
I finally get to do my musical.

This article is related to: Interviews, Interviews, Savannah Film Festival, Danny Strong, Lee Daniels, Oprah Winfrey, Prisoners, Lee Daniels' The Butler


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates