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Oprah Winfrey feared failure ahead of The Butler acting return

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Aug 11, 2013 | 2:05pm EDT

Oprah Winfrey was hesitant to make her movie return in Lee Daniels' The Butler because she feared she would "embarrass" herself after the box office flop of her 1998 film Beloved. The talk show icon earned an Oscar nomination for her acting debut in Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple in 1985, but her starring role in her passion project Beloved failed to draw audiences at movie theatres and took just $22.8 million (£15.2 million) worldwide, despite its $80 million (£53.3 million) budget. The film's failure sent Winfrey into a downward spiral for "about 30 or 40 days" and she reveals the emotions she battled during that dark period made her weary of returning to the big screen ever again. She tells the New York Daily News, "I mourned that (Beloved flop) for a long time. I went into - I wouldn't say severe depression, but I could tell that this sadness I was feeling had sort of taken me over. I felt like I was behind a veil. I had literally said to myself, 'If I am depressed, who am I going to talk to?'" Winfrey managed to bounce back from the disappointment of Beloved, but the experience put her off the idea of acting again. She says, "It (the thought of acting) did scare me very much. I said to (Daniels), 'I just don't want to embarrass myself.' Lee said, 'You won't, trust me!' I said it was me I have to trust... "When you have a big, big so-called 'failure' such as that (Beloved), you have to look at it for what it can teach you. How can it grow you up so that you don't have to go through that kind of suffering again? It doesn't mean you won't have it again, but that - that impact - cannot happen again."

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