Lee Daniels fired 'disrespectful' Precious crew after white DP couldn't light Black skin
Lee Daniels revealed that just 20 days after filming his Oscar-winning 2009 drama Precious, a "disrespectful" crew caused a huge upheaval behind the scenes.
During a reunion interview with lead actress Gabourey Sidibe at the Toronto International Film Festival 2021, the director recalled that after two weeks of shooting he was "not feeling well" with the film's daily newspapers and shortly thereafter corrected the course.
"I had a white line producer, a white AD, they also read [reviews that said my last film] Shadowboxer was the worst movie ever and they had no respect for me, my vision, or whatever it was Yorker, who saw it as a job, "Daniels said." I kept coming home like this doesn't feel right, she doesn't look right, the set looks weird. I felt like I was literally becoming an alien Bringing the world, so I did something I don't even do now. I know if I had the courage to do it, but I fired everyone. I closed it. "
Everett Lee Daniels and Gabourey Sidibe on the set of "Precious".
Sidibe seemed to wipe away tears when Daniels remembered the incident and agreed to have the crew released after just 20 days on the set.
"I was so nervous about making sure it was nicely lit. It didn't feel right," added the director. "Whether we would take a financial blow because of that, I just closed it blindly." It was a risk that ultimately paid off as the film ended up grossing $ 64 million on a $ 10 million budget.
"Then we came back with a new DP, Andrew Dunn," Daniels continued. “I saw The Madness of King George and I loved the way he shot it. I loved The Bodyguard with Whitney Houston, he'd done that and I asked him, 'I need your help because my DP is disrespectful. 'They were all white guys, just rude, disrespectful, really rude to what I wanted to do without knowing I was going to shut everything down. "
Sidibe, who received an Oscar nomination for her role in the film produced by Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, echoed Daniels, saying the original DP - who didn't name her - "had no idea" how to lighten her skin and that she often looked green in the footage she could see from early shoots.
"Once we were shooting under a bridge in a literal gutter - not a 'fixed' gutter like a gutter - with actually green slime on the floor ... I had to lie down for them to set fire to me on the floor, and I swear you, I was on the ground for over an hour while they tried to set me on fire, "she recalled." Every now and then I might run into a DP who doesn't know how to illuminate the variance of black and tan skin, and that was one of the main problems with him. "
A representative of the Precious distributor Lionsgate did not immediately respond to EW's confirmation request.
Precious, and the story of a New York teenager enrolling in an alternative school with continued abuse by her mother, became a hit with critics. The film received two Academy Awards: one for supporting actress Mo'Nique and the other for writing by Geoffrey S. Fletcher, in addition to an award for Best Picture. The film also featured critically acclaimed appearances by Paula Patton, Sherri Shepherd, Lenny Kravitz, Xosha Roquemore and Mariah Carey.
See Daniels and Sidibe discuss Precious above. Stay up to date with EW's ongoing TIFF coverage here.
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American actor, producer
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