So many incredible and unexpected things have happened to Precious director Lee Daniels in the past few years.
The list covers such a broad scope — from getting financing to make a film about a 350-pound illiterate teenage girl who is pregnant for the second time by her father (not an easy sell), to winning three awards at Sundance, to then getting the backing of heavyweights Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey — that he doesn’t even know how to talk about it.
“How do I even articulate it?” he asks rhetorically.
“When I do films. I expect them to go straight to DVD. Then Oprah is on the phone with me? How do I process that?”
He might have to process a lot more — the buzz around Precious as being a front-runner for an Oscar is deafening.
“It’s hard to embrace love sometimes,” says Daniels.
“My friends are telling me that I really need to hang onto these moments and embrace them. But (at screenings) the applause is so loud that it’s almost so embarrassing that I have to leave.”
In Precious, Mariah Carey has a supporting role as the social worker, Ms. Weiss, who sports a faint mustache.
A mustache. On Mariah Carey.
“Let me tell you, it was hysterical and sad all at the same time,” laughs Daniels.
“She was so out of her comfort zone, but I think that’s what made her performance more outstanding and honest. She is so used to having accoutrement.
“But when she is behind closed doors, I think she really is closer to Ms. Weiss than she thinks.”
Daniels says he was surprised that Perry — from the Madea franchise fame — was interested in the project.
“Tyler Perry is in a demographic that doesn’t really follow (my films),” says the openly-gay Daniels.
“African-Americans don’t seem to follow me like they do Spike Lee and Tyler. So it’s nice to have his support – I know people need to see this film and he’ll help make that happen.”
Precious opens in theatres this week.
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