It's easy to forget now that before Oprah Winfrey had a nationally syndicated talk show, she was an Academy Award-nominated actress.
Ten months before "The Oprah Winfrey Show" debuted coast-to-coast, Winfrey made her acting debut in Steven Spielberg's "The Color Purple." The movie was a critical and financial hit, and it could've been a launchpad to a successful acting career. But then Winfrey got a little distracted with being the most successful talk show host in history (and one of the wealthiest people in the world).
Now with the grind of her daily show over, Winfrey has returned to acting in her first on-screen movie role in 15 years in "The Butler," inspired by the true story of the man who served eight U.S. presidents in the White House. And it seems as though the part puts her in a compromising position we are not used to seeing her in, thanks to her "misbehaving" costar Terrence Howard.
Watch the exclusive trailer premiere for 'The Butler':
Winfrey plays Gloria Gaines, the wife of Cecil Gaines (played by Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker), the long-serving White House butler. But she gets embroiled in an affair with their charming next-door neighbor, played by Terrence Howard. And Howard was apparently very happy to talk about what a thrill he found their love scene to be.
"Oprah and I had such chemistry. She's such a lovely, voluptuous woman," Howard told MovieFanatic.com when asked about their make-out scene (he also used some less appropriate terminology to describe her features). "She's very, very, very beautiful, and that was wonderful."
Winfrey herself opened up about the intimate scene when Steve Harvey asked her about it on his talk show. "It was supposed to be like a little scene," Winfrey explained, "and because Terrence Howard misbehaved it turned into a bigger scene, and then a bigger scene." She went on to call him "a misbehaving kind of boy."
And she didn't shy away from the language Howard used to describe her: "I heard he was on Twitter the other day talking about my 'breasteses' [sic]." Though she clarified that his statements didn't upset her. She said, "Some people called me saying that they all were offended and I go, 'Well, I do have big breasteses'."
Winfrey's last on-screen movie role was in the big-screen adaptation of Toni Morrison's book "Beloved," which bombed at the box office. Since then she voiced characters in family movies like "The Princess and the Frog." "The Butler" marks her return to mature, on-camera roles, and that the content is adult-oriented shouldn't be too much of a surprise. The film is from director Lee Daniels, who previously made the Oscar-winning "Precious," which Winfrey also produced. He also made last year's more lurid, "The Paperboy," which featured a tawdry relationship between Zac Efron and Nicole Kidman.
Daniels said he wrote the part especially for Winfrey, and the disconnect between the character and her public persona was part of the appeal for her. He told the Huffington Post, "I think that she’s able to escape the pressures of being Oprah while on my set, because she’s able to sort of be the character." And while things get somewhat heated between Winfrey and Howard, it doesn't get explicit enough to be alienating. He said, "I think 'The Butler' isn't dark. I'm pleasing everyone with 'The Butler.'"
Though it sounds like for Terrence Howard, the pleasure was all his.
"The Butler" opens later this year.