'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Screenwriter Relieved Title Dispute Over, Still Upset About Outcome
Danny Strong also talked to THR about Oprah Winfrey's performance, while she told Parade why she chose this film to return to acting.
The screenwriter of Lee Daniels' The Butler is relieved that the movie's highly publicized title fight with Warner Bros. is over but still is upset about it.
"I don't want people talking about the title; I want them talking about the movie," Danny Strong told The Hollywood Reporter at Tuesday's New York screening of Elysium. "I'm disappointed we didn't get to keep the title The Butler. I personally think it's unfair that we didn't get to keep it. But regardless, I think this was the next best alternate to that because it's essentially still the title."
Strong also said that his movie, based on the life of Eugene Allen, who served as a White House butler through eight administrations, would show people a side of historical figures that they might not have seen.
"Because it's this backstage kind of view of the White House, the hope was to portray the presidents and the first ladies in a way how they were like in their everyday lives, not in their public personas, so that you got a glimpse behind the curtain into what it would've been like to spend time with JFK, what it would've been like to spend time with Ronald Reagan, with Nixon, with Eisenhower," he explained.
Even the larger-than-life Oprah Winfrey delivers an impressive performance in the movie, Strong said, noting that he'd be surprised if she didn't get an Oscar nomination.
"I think the only thing people will be disappointed in when they see this performance is that she hasn't been in more movies in the last 15 years because she's so stunning," he added.
Winfrey told Parade magazine that she returned to acting to work with Lee Daniels and play the character of Gloria, the wife of the titular butler who represented every woman of that time who sacrificed herself.
Winfrey and Daniels both told Parade they didn't think young people knew enough about the civil rights movement, with Winfrey saying, "They don’t know diddly-squat."
Winfrey, Daniels and Forest Whitaker, who plays the fictional butler Cecil Gaines in the movie, also talked about the use of the N-word, something that's been in the media spotlight since Paula Deen revealed that she previously used the word.
"You cannot be my friend and use that word around me," Winfrey told the magazine. "It shows my age, but I feel strongly about it. … I always think of the millions of people who heard that as their last word as they were hanging from a tree."
Whitaker says he doesn't use the word and never did, while Daniels says he used to use it but no longer does after Winfrey talked to him about its power.
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