“The Help” & Octavia Spencer
Thanks to Walt Disney Studios and Dreamworks, I had the opportunity to preview the awesome movie, The Help. Let me tell you, it was a really good movie! If you watch it, you’ll definitely want to have tissue on hand. The cast was amazing and I both laughed and cried throughout the movie. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend you check it out when it comes out on DVD and Blu-ray in December 2011.
The #1 New York Times best seller by Kathryn Stockett comes to vivid life through the powerful performances of a phenomenal ensemble cast. Led by Emma Stone, Academy Award®-nominated Viola Davis (Best Supporting Actress, Doubt, 2008), Octavia Spencer and Bryce Dallas Howard, The Help is an inspirational, courageous and empowering story about very different, extraordinary women in the 1960s South who build an unlikely friendship around a secret writing project — one that breaks society’s rules and puts them all at risk. Filled with poignancy, humor and hope — and complete with compelling, never-before-seen bonus features — The Help is a timeless, universal and triumphant story about the ability to create change.
THE PHONE INTERVIEW
Not only did I have the opportunity to watch the premiere of The Help at BlogHer 2011, but I also had the opportunity as one of 10 bloggers to talk with Octavia Spencer in a phone interview. Octavia Spencer plays “Minny” in The Help and she was one of my favorite characters. She was open, honest, and funny. She was really fun to talk to on the conference call as well. Here are a few of the questions and answers from the phone interview with The Help’s Octavia Spencer.
Q: Did you have any hesitations about taking on the character of Minny, and knowing there might be controversy?
Octavia: Oh no, that’s not something that I – no. My tribulation was probably more doing the part justice and being sure what Kathryn’s intentions were for the character, and making sure that I the role justice for the people it represents. So no, controversy doesn’t bother me.
Q: Were you excited when you got the role of Minny?
Octavia: Absolutely, the thing is, what people don’t really understand with the film industry…I was a part of her doing the book, I went on tour with her in 2009, and its very rare that you….an unknown actor gets a lead role in a film like this. So even though I know that Kate Brunson would be producing it, I knew that I had to separate myself from the idea that it could happen. So, I waited until I was offered the part which was in May before I allowed myself to even think it was possible, so of course I was elated.
Q: Minny gets into trouble because she is extremely outspoken and feisty. And I was wondering if you share the same qualities, and if you’ve ever gotten into trouble?
Octavia: I am definitely feisty, that’s actually …. that’s part of …. Minny …. Kathryn Stockett very loosely based well, the character of Minny on me and it’s basically my physicalities (being short and round). She met me on a day I would say I was not really feisty, but I was completely irritable, times a thousand, so um, I would say my feistiness has never gotten me into trouble, or if it has, people will probably at least tell me that I was in trouble. But, no, really, I have always been the type of person who you know, spoke up for herself, but I don’t think …. not as cunning as Minny.
Q: What do you think was the most difficult part of your role as Minny Jackson and what are you hoping people would take away from it?
Octavia: I think the most difficult part of doing a role was dealing with the place and time….just the place and time period….the time period itself was very confining. I felt very confined physically, mentally, emotionally. It was just very, very restrictive, and that alone was enough to deal with, coupled with the fact that I’m playing an abused wife or spouse. I hope people will take away the sense of humanity and the strength of the bond that these women from culturally different backgrounds were able to come together and basically change their community. I find it remarkable – the triumphs of the young spirit.
Q: Did you cry when you watched the film or which scene moved you the most?
Octavia: I did cry when I watched the film. There’s so many scenes that made me cry but I have different reactions because they they were evocative of other things. So just the last thing without giving anything away…definitely the scene where Minnie find Celia in the bathroom. Um, yeah, that were just other moments that nobody else knows would be emotionally moved by. I think it’s wherever you are emotionally that your response….that you would respond a certain response.
Q (asked by myself): Do you ever burn chicken in real life?
Octavia: No, honey, I don’t cook in real life. I don’t cook anything in real life.
Q: What’s been your favorite experience with The Help?
Octavia: Dining in the hotel rooms. I’m not kidding, I love that part. Just going around the country and promoting the film and meeting different people who watched the film and they come up and share their experiences and what they thought. I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Lily Evers, the widow of Medgar Evers, and it was one of those moments I thought I would never ever be ….. and I had the opportunity to meet the first lady. This project is really compelling people to have a moment of reflection and introspection and in doing so it just opens the dialogue I guess, and you have no idea the people you’re going to meet and the people you are going to share that dialogue with. And because of the film I got to have dialogue with the first lady and every other day getting to have a dialogue with interesting people like yourselves. So, it’s pretty wonderful.
Q (asked by myself): What’s your favorite food?
Octavia: All food. My favorite food….I’m a meatloaf person. I’m a meatloaf and mashed sweet potatoes person.
Q (asked by myself): Do you like chocolate?
Octavia: I love chocolate. You have to have chocolate!
As you can see, Octavia Spencer is quite a character in real life as well. I’d like to thank her for setting the time to speak was in her phone interview and to Walt Disney Studios and Dreamworks for the opportunity to speak to such an amazing woman. The Help was an amazing movie and it truly touched my heart when I watched it. Be sure to check out The Help in December!
No compensation was received for this post. The opportunity was made possibly by Walt Disney Studios and Dreamworks Pictures.