Out director Lee Daniels’s new film, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, features hottie James Marsden as JFK (as we explain in our September cover story), as well as Oprah Winfrey in a very rare film performance (her first serious role since 1998 adaptation of Toni Morrison's Beloved). Although The Oprah is the embodiment of ease and proficiency in every way, there were a couple aspects to the production that worried her.
Vanity Fair: Did Oprah complain about having to smoke all the time?
Daniels: Of course. She didn’t know how, so I literally taught her how. She had never held a cigarette. And we don’t have time for rehearsal. We don’t rehearse in my films, because time is money, and we don’t have any money. We learn on the spot. I think she did a good job.
Vanity Fair: She looked natural. I was just wondering if it annoyed her.
Daniels: She got into it a little too much. I said, Oprah, it’s addictive. That’s the reason we’ve got to be careful, honey. [Laughs.]
So Oprah doesn’t know how to do everything! Vanity Fair also reported on Daniels’s and Winfrey’s conversation with Oprah’s best pal Gayle King at a post-screening conversation. Picture it: Oprah in bed, making love to her husband (the character of a real-life White House butler to eight administrations, played by Forest Whitaker):
King: [D]idn’t she ask a lot of questions?
Daniels: Too many damn questions! Oprah is just full of questions. I couldn’t answer enough questions. They’re in the bed—it’s the scene where she and Forest were together and they’re making love. So she looks around and she says, “What time is it?” I said, “It doesn’t matter what time it is.” “What time is it, Lee?” I said, “It doesn’t matter. You’re getting laid. Shut up!” She pulled the covers up over her head.
King: Is it morning?
Daniels: What difference does it make?!
Winfrey: Is it morning? Do I have the rollers in? Am I trying to get breakfast done?
The Oprah was too classy to submit to one of Daniels’s other requests for her character. For more on that, click here.