In this weekend’s issue, Parade features a very personal conversation with Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, and director Lee Daniels (Precious) about their new movie and the questions it raises about race in America.
The “powerful chronicle” of one black man’s years of service in the White House during the most tumultuous period in the nation’s civil rights history, Lee Daniels’ The Butler (in theaters Aug. 16) was a “labor of love” for the trio.
Whitaker, 52, plays Cecil Gaines, whose experiences attending presidents from Eisenhower through Reagan are loosely based on those of Eugene Allen, a White House butler who died in 2010.
Winfrey, 59, in her first dramatic role since 1998’s Beloved, plays Gaines’s wife, Gloria, who battles a drinking problem and watches her husband clash with their activist son.
The film revisits major events—the Freedom Rides, the lunch counter sit-ins, the Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. assassinations—through their impact on the Gaines family.
On using the N-word, Lee Daniels calls it a word he used quite a bit, until Oprah sat him down and talked to him about its power.
Winfrey says she feels 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.” – Parade