Sep 17 2009

'Precious' Director on Bringing Mariah to the Big Screen

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By the time Mariah Carey appears in a pivotal scene in the movie Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” By Sapphire, it’s easy to forget she’s a glamorous chart-topper with flawless makeup and designer tastes. As tears well up in her unadorned eyes onscreen, she is transformed into welfare case worker Ms. Weiss. Lenny Kravitz’s role in the film is not as much of a stretch. He plays Nurse John, a charming rock star of the ward, so to speak, who makes the girls’ hearts flutter.

“From my first film, Monster’s Ball, with Puffy and Mos Def to Macy Gray in Shadowboxer, Eve in The Woodsman with Kevin Bacon, a musician has been in every film I’ve done,” says director/producer Lee Daniels in a one-on-one interview with Rolling Stone during the Toronto International Film Festival. “I love musicians. I’m going to do a musical next year [with Kravitz]. I’m not allowed to talk about it.

”Lee was joined at the gala screening by Carey, author Sapphire, executive producers Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry and Lisa Cortes and composer Mary J. Blige. Neither Carey nor Kravitz are the lead characters, but their parts propel the harrowing story of a sexually and mentally abused Harlem teenager who’s betrayed by the very people who are supposed to love her but stays deteremined to break out of her lot in life. It’s a film so intense Daniels says he couldn’t afford to cast stars whose celebrity is bigger than their talent. So how did he know Carey could successfully take on that role?

“Because we’d just finished working together in a film. It’s called Tennessee, by a Canadian director Aaron Woodley, a little tiny movie and she starred in it for me. We became really good friends and I knew that she had the chops,” says Lee. “She does an incredible impersonation of Aretha Franklin. Not her singing voice but her speaking voice! She channels people’s voices.”

Mariah Carey does not have a song in the movie. “I did not want to use Mariah’s music. It’s what I fought. It’s like the biggest, hardest thing ever for me,” [Daniels] says emphatically, “because I wanted to make sure that she was noted for her acting. It was so important to me that she was noted for her acting.”

--Karen Bliss, Rolling Stone 

Be sure to visit The Official Precious Movie Website for information about the movie as well as newly added clips from it. Click here to watch Mo'Nique interviewed on the Today Show. A clip with Mariah from the film is shown in the segment.
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