Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Paul Thomas Anderson Says 'Edge Of Tomorrow' Is "F*cking Great," Also Loves 'Grand Budapest Hotel'  Paul Thomas Anderson Says 'Edge Of Tomorrow' Is "F*cking Great," Also Loves 'Grand Budapest Hotel' 10 Unaired TV Pilots By A-List Directors That We Want To See 10 Unaired TV Pilots By A-List Directors That We Want To See 'Kick-Ass' Creator Mark Millar Says A Hit-Girl Solo Movie Was Once In The Works With 'The Raid' Director Gareth Evans 'Kick-Ass' Creator Mark Millar Says A Hit-Girl Solo Movie Was Once In The Works With 'The Raid' Director Gareth Evans Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot 30 Films You Forgot Were Oscar Winners 30 Films You Forgot Were Oscar Winners Watch: Tom Hardy & Gary Oldman Face Off In The First Trailer For Thriller ‘Child 44’ Watch: Tom Hardy & Gary Oldman Face Off In The First Trailer For Thriller ‘Child 44’ The 10 Best Films Of 2005 The 10 Best Films Of 2005 Review: Documentary 'Night Will Fall' Is A Powerful Reminder Of The Horrors Of The Holocaust Review: Documentary 'Night Will Fall' Is A Powerful Reminder Of The Horrors Of The Holocaust Harvey Weinstein Explains What Happened With 'Grace Of Monaco,' Says He Was Right About 'Snowpiercer' Harvey Weinstein Explains What Happened With 'Grace Of Monaco,' Says He Was Right About 'Snowpiercer' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far 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 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point

Lee Daniels Says 'The Butler' The Closest He's Come To Doing "Work-For-Hire," Calls It "A Big Compromise"

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist October 5, 2012 at 10:17AM

If you can say anything about Lee Daniels, it's that he's got a distinct voice. Whether it always works is another topic entirely, but over the course of the three films now -- "Shadowboxer" (which got a great Commentary Of The Damned feature at the AV Club), awards horse "Precious" and the pulpy, divisive "The Paperboy" -- he has made pictures that are completely his own. But it seems that his next effort, "The Butler," which boasts yet another star-studded ensemble, will see the director dialing it back a bit.
0
The Butler Lee Daniels

If you can say anything about Lee Daniels, it's that he's got a distinct voice. Whether it always works is another topic entirely, but over the course of the three films now -- "Shadowboxer" (which got a great Commentary Of The Damned feature at the AV Club), awards horse "Precious" and the pulpy, divisive "The Paperboy" -- he has made pictures that are completely his own. But it seems that his next effort, "The Butler," which boasts yet another star-studded ensemble, will see the director dialing it back a bit.

With "The Paperboy" opening this weekend, Daniels has been doing the press rounds and recently stopped by to chat with Film School Rejects. Talk turned to commerce vs. art, and Daniels candidly revealed that "The Butler" finds him being held back by its rating, and the simple fact that it's not a movie he developed from scratch. "I think this last film I finished, 'The Butler,' is the closest I will come to as a work-for-hire. That was a big compromise, because it’s PG-13 and there were producers attached to it before I came on-board. It wasn’t something that I developed, but I did help rewrite the script with Danny Strong," he explained. "You know, it’s a different medium. As an artist, it challenges you, because you are hired. You are a director for hire…"

But it wasn't just being brought onto a movie that was already moving that posed a challenge. Based on the true story of Eugene Allen, a White House butler who served through eight presidencies, Daniels also had to make sure he didn't veer from the facts. "History is hard, though. I had to follow history. I could only take so much creative liberty, whereas with 'The Paperboy' and 'Precious,' they were wild rides. Even 'Monster’s Ball' and 'The Woodsman' [produced by Daniels] were wild rides. 'The Butler' is more sedate. It’s a sedate world," he said adding: "You have to be more clever...You can’t just lay it out there. You’re only allowed one 'fuck,' which you can get about 20 from me in one scene [Laughs]"

But is having Daniels reined in necessarily a bad thing? Of the many criticisms lobbed at "The Paperboy," the editing and narrative choices in particular stuck out, the director playing wildly with style and form (not always to the advantage of the picture). Boxing Daniels in a little bit may not be the worst thing in the world. Anyhow, we'll find out soon enough. The Weinstein Company have snapped up the rights and a release next year is probably in the cards.

This article is related to: Lee Daniels, 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