At an afternoon tea at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills yesterday, BET.com checked in with some of the cast members from the upcoming TV movie Steel Magnolias, a remake of the 1989 feature film, which premieres October 7.
“My involvement is I switch back and forth,” explains Steel Magnolias executive producer and star Queen Latifah about how she juggles work behind the scenes and in front of the camera. She plays M’Lynn, a role originated by Sally Field. “[As executive producer] I’m in a supporting role in terms of whatever anyone needs to feel comfortable and do a great job. It’s really that simple. It’s about working hard and setting a tone for the director, cast and crew, trying to solve problems. We had an 18-day shoot so there wasn’t a lot of time to get things right. I also come in with a couple of jokes, play the house music in the trailer and the hip hop [Laughs]. But once we start shooting and rehearsing, I have to put my acting cap on.”
Alfre Woodard says her role as Ouiser, played by Shirley MacLaine in the 1989 film, came just in time because she’s nursing empty nest blues now that her 21-year old daughter Mavis and 18-year old son Duncan have left home. “I love my work, I figured out what I came here to do at age 16 was to be a storyteller. It’s how I pay rent to be among the company of men,” says Woodard. “But being the mother of Mavis and Duncan was my high calling. That was the most incredible human experience that I could have. So when you take care of that [parenting job] with good motive then the universe takes care of other things and has people calling you to say, ‘Hey, Snap out of it mommy, bring your storytelling butt to work!’”
Grammy Award-winning singer and actress Jill Scott, who portrays Truvy in the remake, the character portrayed by Dolly Parton in the original movie, admits to being happy anywhere in this production thanks to her personal fandom for her fellow costars. “I would have worked in catering seriously,” laughs Scott. "It’s been a lovefest for the last few months while we shot those grueling wonderful hours. These are women that I’ve respected and wanted to know and I’ve watched them grow over the years. I love Alfre Woodard, there was Phylicia Rashad and Queen Latifah… I would have done any role period [in this film] because they are all awesome."
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(Photos from left: Larry Busacca/Getty Images, Scott Kirkland/PictureGroup)