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Beyonce Knowles’ Latest Destiny Is ‘Dreamgirls’

It’s the kind of film role a musical superstar-turned-movie actress longs for, the perfect showcase for both their melodic gifts and their acting talents. Barbra Streisand found it in Funny Girl, Diana Ross in Lady Sings the Blues, and Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard. And now Beyonce Knowles may have found her dream role as Dreamgirls Deena Jones.

“When I heard they were doing this movie, I said, I have to be a part of it,” Knowles tells Hollywood.com. “I don’t care what I do, I have to be a part of this, if I’m only in it for five minutes, because I knew it would important, it would be history.”

Hollywood.com: Why is it so important to you to do this particular film?
Beyonce Knowles: I’m from a singing group, and it wasn’t for groups like the Supremes, Aretha Franklin, all of the artists that have crossed over, I wouldn’t be able to have international tours, I wouldn’t be able to be on the radio in Germany, so many things. And this tells that story. And it’s also important that people know the downsides of fame. They think that you have the glittery dresses and the eyelashes and everything’s happy. But there’s a price of fame, and there’s something very sad about it, and this kind of reveals that.

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HW: Is that something you related to firsthand from your own career experiences?
Not really, because I’m not like most celebrities that I meet. I am very happy, and it’s because I’m an exception because my family is with me. I have honesty around me, and most people don’t have that. But I wanted to be a part of it, and I invited Bill Condon to see my rehearsals with Destiny’s Child and I think I scared him, because I’m more like Tina Turner on the stage. My vocal performance and my dancing and everything is nothing like Deena. So he was like ‘Whoa, okay, you’re gonna have to do a screen test.’ [laughs] He didn’t know if people had such an idea of me that it would be believable for me to be young Deena.

HW: Deena was the part you’d set your heart on?
I would’ve loved to play Effie, but I knew if he didn’t believe me as Deena [laughs], then there was no way! And I knew that Deena, in the script, was not the biggest part, but I didn’t care—I was happy to be a part of it. I did my screen test, I found the ugliest dress I could find, I went and found the ugliest wig I could find, I put these big eyebrows on me, and I did it, and they found their Deena. And I immediately blocked off six months of my schedule, which I’ve never done.

HW: How did you prepare for the role?
I didn’t allow myself to perform or do anything outside of Dreamgirls, I only listened to ’60s music, I had a shrine of Diana Ross in my trailer, and I lost twenty pounds—and I love to eat, so that was really hard. I did whatever I could think of to do the best job I could. I worked with my acting coach every day, even on the weekends. I wanted to make sure that that I showed that I could act, and finally I was given a part that was different for me and that had range and that started out one way, and grew and butterflied into another character, and I thought it was so exciting. I’m extremely happy. I actually sat in the theatre and did not see myself at all.

HW: In your musical career, you’re usually the center of attention. How was it to take a step back and be part of an ensemble?
BK: I didn’t do the movie to become a bigger star. I mean, I’m already a big star, and the thought of being bigger is actually scary. [laughs] So I knew that, and I don’t have a problem with that. I mean, I knew that I was gonna have to hold back vocally. I knew that in the beginning when everyone else has their makeup and hair, I still have to be the oddball with the eyebrows. But that is a part of being an actor and that’s part of the character, and I’m very comfortable with that because I don’t really have anything to prove at this point. As far as being a star and being a singer, I already have nine Grammys, I’m already a big star, so this was really about the acting for me.

HW: Is there anything specific that you brought to the part from your experience being in Destiny’s Child?
BK: Definitely the relationship with the other ladies in the beginning of the film. Because before I met the ladies, I already met the ladies [laughs]. I mean, I already had in my mind who they were, and when I met them, I felt like I’d been knowing them forever, because I’d been rehearsing it. And it probably freaked them out a little bit [laughs]. But it stops there, because Deena’s apart from me. She grew up in the projects and she didn’t have a father and she wasn’t a strong singer. It’s different from me, who did have both of my parents, who is in control of my life, and seemingly because of my voice. So I didn’t want to reenact the things that happened to me, because when I lost on Star Search I was sad, but I still had a nice house, I still was in private school. As opposed to Deena, who had to go back, squeeze back in the bed, in her one little bedroom, holding her mother. So the passion and everything was different.

HW: How important is a movie career to you?
BK: I’m the type of person that when I start something, I’ve gotta finish it. And I already started it, I’ve already done four movies, so I have to win an Oscar [laughs]. It’s very important to me.

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HW: Will you continue to pursue the movies, maybe set the music career aside a bit?
BK: I don’t know, I’m still young, I love music, I love doing musicals. I wish Barbra Streisand would’ve done more. I wish Diana Ross would’ve done more movies. So I want to do more. I want to do grayer movies. I want to play different parts that don’t have singing, but I’m open to whatever inspires me. The thing I learned most is when I look at a script, if I don’t have the passion that I had about this, I’m not wasting my time.

HW: Have you met Diana Ross, or spoken to her?
Yes I have. I met her maybe three times, and I met her recently when I was filming the movie, and she was very nice, and told me if I needed anything she was there—which was really great for me, because I respect her, and I was happy to hear that she wasn’t upset. [laughs]

HW: Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
By that time, hopefully married with children, and I’m sure my priorities will be them. And I would love to do Broadway, and I’d love to kiss my kids and take them to school and pick them up and then go to the theatre and do that every day, I think that just sounds like a nice thing to do when I’m older. My plan now is to do a movie and an album a year. And then say I want to retire, take two years off, then I’ll do that, but I’m just trying to do whatever inspires me.

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