In his career as a casting agent, talent manager, film producer and director, Lee Daniels has been an ongoing champion of the "underdog," who expanded opportunities for actors of color and brought con...
Lee Daniels was left in tears after shooting the pilot episode of his new hip-hop drama Empire after watching actor Terrence Howard dump his onscreen son in a trash can - because it was exactly what his own father had done to the director as a child. The first episode of the series featured Howard as a conniving music mogul who refuses to accept his young son is gay, and the Oscar nominee admits he found it tough to play such a cold-hearted man, but his feelings were nothing compared to what Daniels went through as he watched a brutal incident from his childhood unfold onscreen.
Howard recalls, "When we were doing the scene in the pilot, where I take my son Jamal, who's dressed up in high heels and a scarf... at five years old, and I take him and I put him inside the trash can... when we shot that, I was trying to be nice a little bit and Lee was like, 'No, don't do it the nice way because that's not how it was done, that's not how it was done for me.'
"And then when I finally did it without any compassion and without any remorse, Lee was in the background, he couldn't even watch the camera any more, he was just in tears... absolute tears (because) that's exactly what his father did to him."
Daniels has previously spoken at length about his police officer father William, who used to abuse him as a kid because of his sexuality, revealing he 'came out' as a gay man because he "loathed" his dad so much.
He added, "I couldn't understand how you could, with an extension cord, beat a 45-pound kid just because he's aware of his femininity."
"I have all these friends that know the producer, Lee Daniels, and a wonderful man and a great director... So many friends over the years have said, 'Get in touch with Lee.' I didn't wanna stalk him or anything, but I had this friend who one night said, 'Lee was talking about you last night. Here's his number', and so I texted him and a minute later he called me and he said, 'I think I have a role for you.' I mean, (it was) meant to be. It's crazy." Courtney Love reached out to filmmaker Lee Daniels on the advice of mutual pals after learning he was a big fan of her work. The call resulted in the rocker being cast in a recurring role in his new TV drama series Empire.
Michael Douglas and Matt Damon are among the latest Hollywood heavyweights who have joined calls for British officials to grant pardons to thousands of gay men who were prosecuted when homosexuality was illegal in the U.K. The two actors, who played lovers in Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra, have signed a petition which was launched last month (Jan15) in honour of Alan Turing, the gay World War II codebreaker played by Benedict Cumberbatch in Oscar-nominated movie The Imitation Game.
The petition has been gathering speed since Cumberbatch threw his weight behind it, and other stars who have now given their backing include Jessica Alba, Ryan Reynolds, Channing Tatum and Bryan Cranston, while previous signatories include Cumberbatch's The Imitation Game co-star Keira Knightley, director Sam Taylor-Johnson, actor Matthew Goode, and moviemaker Lee Daniels.
As WENN went to press, the petition had gained more than 200,000 signatures.
Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson is set to reunite with her Winnie Mandela co-star Terrence Howard on his new hit music drama Empire. Howard played late South African civil rights leader Nelson Mandela opposite Hudson, who portrayed wife Winnie, in the 2011 biopic, and the former movie couple will reteam on the small screen when she makes a guest appearance on his new TV hit.
The duo also appeared in drama Lullaby in 2014.
Empire centres on the relationship of a conniving music mogul, played by Howard, and his ex-wife, Taraji P. Henson, who demands a cut of the business after spending years behind bars.
The drama, written and produced by filmmaker Lee Daniels, already has a star-studded line-up of guest stars, including Naomi Campbell, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Courtney Love, and Rita Ora is also set to make a cameo on an upcoming episode.
Lee Daniels has offered to buy Denzel Washington dinner so he can talk the actor into accepting a role on his new TV show Empire. The Hollywood moviemaker is co-creator of the drama, which stars Terrence Howard as a drug-dealer-turned-music mogul, and he wants the Oscar winner to join the cast for a cameo appearance.
Daniels has shared a picture of himself dining with Washington at a restaurant in Los Angeles, and he added in a caption posted on his Instagram.com page, "Trying to talk this one into doing a guest star on Empire. Next week dinner on me."
The Butler moviemaker directed the first two episodes of Empire, which began airing in the U.S. earlier this month (Jan15).
Director Lee Daniels is helping supermodel Naomi Campbell make her big screen acting return by casting her in his upcoming Richard Pryor biopic. The filmmaker recently recruited the British beauty for a recurring role in his new TV drama series Empire, alongside Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, and now Campbell will have a role in his next project, too.
She revealed the news during an interview on U.S. breakfast show Today on Friday (23Jan15) as she discussed her appearance on Empire, saying, "I'm grateful to Lee Daniels (for casting her in Empire)... and also Richard Pryor, his new film, with Oprah (Winfrey), Mike Epps, Kate Hudson."
Campbell stopped short of sharing any further details about her part.
The Hangover funnyman Epps will portray the late comic legend in the new biopic, with Hudson taking on the role of his wife, Jennifer Lee Pryor, and Selma star Oprah Winfrey as his grandmother.
Production is expected to begin at the end of March (15).
Pryor died in 2005, aged 65, after suffering a heart attack.
Campbell last featured on the movie screen in 2009 Bollywood film Karma, Confessions and Holi, while she also previously appeared in 1999 comedy Trippin'.
Rapper Foxy Brown is working with director Lee Daniels in the hopes of landing a guest role on his new hip-hop drama Empire. The Oh Yeah hitmaker has not flexed her acting muscles since making her screen debut in 1998, when she appeared in Jada Pinkett Smith comedy film Woo, but she is eager to test her skills once more by teaming up with Daniels on his first TV series, which airs on America's Fox network.
She recently took to Instagram.com to share a screen grab of a text conversation with the filmmaker, in which Daniels wrote, "We fixin (sic) to turn up Fox on FOX".
Responding to the message, Brown texted, "God is awesome...! Can't wait I'm coming wit it (sic)! I love u my Lee Lee".
She captioned the image, "EMPIRE DYNASTY!!!!!!!! THE MASTERMIND HAS OFFICIALLY SPOKEN!"
Empire stars Terrence Howard as a reformed drug dealer who reinvents himself as a music mogul at the top of a hip-hop empire. Taraji P. Henson co-stars as his ex-wife.
Actor David Oyelowo felt obligated to keep up his American accent in between takes on Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic Selma, because he feared locals in the civil rights icon's native Atlanta, Georgia would not accept him in the lead role if they knew he was British. The Lee Daniels' The Butler star, who packed on the pounds for the role, reveals he was keen to try the method acting technique on the set of Selma after watching fellow Brit Daniel Day-Lewis in action in their movie Lincoln, but he soon realised it was necessary for him to keep up the American twang to avoid disappointing the hundreds of extras who had no idea he was from overseas.
He explains, "I felt I had to stay in character the whole time, partly because I did this film Lincoln and I had a scene with Daniel Day-Lewis, my favourite actor of all time, and he would stay in character the whole time and I felt that's the blueprint of how to get this right... But he's a genius; I'm a pragmatist.
"We were shooting in Atlanta; Dr. King is from Atlanta, revered in Atlanta... you go and say (in his British accent), 'Hello everybody, I'm going to be playing Dr. King', it's not (going to be) so good when (you have) 500 extras waiting for you to give a speech, so I felt I needed to stay in (the American accent)..."
However, there was one person who couldn't handle hearing Oyelowo speaking with an American accent - his wife Jessica.
He says, "It was weird for my wife because we were moving house at the time and she called me once (while he was on set) about the curtains: 'Should we go for the brown or should we go for (another colour)?'. (In his American accent, he replied), 'Well I think we should, er, go for the...' She went, 'Stop! Stop! We'll do this after you wrap! I cannot talk to you when you are talking like Dr. King, I already feel like I'm having an affair!'."
Supermodel Naomi Campbell has blamed a long travel day and immigration delays for her tardiness on Tuesday (06Jan15), when she almost missed a live interview on U.S. TV show The Talk after flying in from Brazil. The British beauty had been booked to discuss her upcoming acting role on director Lee Daniels' new TV drama Empire, but she was running behind schedule and only just made it to the Los Angeles-based talk show minutes before the programme wrapped.
Campbell returned to the studio on Thursday (08Jan15) to make up for her tardiness by serving as a guest co-host and she sat down for a rescheduled interview.
During the chat, Campbell was asked to explain herself for Tuesday's incident, and she revealed a hold up at the U.S. border had thrown her promotional plans into disarray.
She started off by apologising "profusely" to her co-hosts, including actresses Sara Gilbert and Aisha Tyler, and then continued, "I started travelling the day before, so I came from north of Brazil... 23 hours it took me to get here (to Los Angeles). And then I got here at 6.30am, landed, (but) it's not the same like (flying) domestic, (when) you just get off the plane and get in your car, you have to go through immigration and the immigration law is unto themselves (sic), so I was there until nine o'clock.
"So when I got out (of the airport) and got into town and tried to get ready, I just made it. It was (by) the skin of the teeth."
"I'm talking to different producers right now to figure out what I might be able to do. I'm excited; when I was in college that was my goal. I was just going to come to New York and do theatre, that was the whole thing, I wasn't going to do film at all. (However), I started working in film and as I started working the parts started to become more interesting to me so I started getting caught up in that." Actor Forest Whitaker is hoping to make his Broadway debut this year (15).
Was an associate casting director for the films "Purple Rain" (1984) and "Under the Cherry Moon" (1986)
Directed critically acclaimed drama "Precious," adapted from the novel Push by Sapphire; earned Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Picture and a Directors Guild nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement
Made directorial debut with "Shadowboxer," starring Helen Mirren, Cuba Gooding, Jr. and, Mo'Nique
Produced "Tennessee," written by Russell Schaumberg and directed by Aaron Woodley
Launched management company Lee Daniels Entertainment
Began working in entertainment as a casting director and manager
Nominated for the 2009 Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film ("Precious")
Produced first film under Lee Daniels Entertainment, "Monster's Ball"
Nominated for the 2009 Independent Spirit Award for Best Director ("Precious")
Nominated for the 2009 Academy Award for Best Achievement in Directing ("Precious")
Made screenwriting debut with "The Paperboy"; also directed and produced film based on novel by Peter Dexter
Produced "The Woodsman," starring Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, and Mos Def
In his career as a casting agent, talent manager, film producer and director, Lee Daniels has been an ongoing champion of the "underdog," who expanded opportunities for actors of color and brought controversial stories of societal outcasts to the big screen. Daniels' calling card was dark, visceral, often violent material that offered a surprising flicker of hope in even the most hopeless of circumstances, best showcased in his role as the director of "Precious, Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" (2009). Daniels made his directorial debut in 2006 with the gritty, not-so-well received crime drama "Shadowboxer" (2006), having made his breakout as the producer of "Monster's Ball" (2001), which earned a landmark Academy Award for Halle Berry as a widow who becomes involved with a hateful prison guard. Never afraid to explore the most demonized of subject matters, Daniels gravitated towards the complexities of hustlers and killers and even a pedophile in his critically acclaimed producing effort, "The Woodsman" (2004), starring Kevin Bacon. Sometimes Daniels' fearless attempts to make outsider characters more universally relatable missed the mark, and he caught some backlash over characters deemed unflattering and negative towards the African-American community, but Daniels' character-based approach to first-glance "unsavory" outcasts made him one of the most unique voices in independent film.
Twin of Clara; adopted by Daniels and Billy Hopkins
Twin of Liam; adopted by Daniels and Billy Hopkins
After leaving college, Daniels moved to Los Angeles, CA and opened the first health care agency in the U.S. to be under contract with the renowned AIDS Project Los Angeles.
Daniels was asked by Harlem neighbor and former president Bill Clinton to produce public service announcements to inspire young people of color to vote. The effective campaign was launched in March 2004 and featured actor/musician LL Cool J and Grammy winner Alicia Keys.
Daniels was featured in "The Vibe 100," Vibe magazine's list of the 100 most influential black individuals in America.
Serves on the board of The Center for Community Change based in Washington, D.C.