Advertisement

Movie Mom

Movie Mom

‘The Help’ — Octavia Spencer

posted by Nell Minow

Octavia Spencer knows the character of Minny in The Help better than anyone else.  Not only did she perform the part with the author on her book tour and in the audio book edition, but it was her outspoken ebullience and confidence that helped to inspire the character when Kathryn Stockett was first writing the story.  She spoke to a small group of online journalists on the set in Mississippi last August.

Advertisement

“The character of Minny is very, very loosely based on me,” she told us.

I met [director] Tate [Taylor]when both were production assistants on “A Time to Kill” in Jackson.  My personality is not the best when I am hungry or hot.  Kathryn Stockett said, “I’m writing a book” and I’m like, “Who isn’t, honey?”  When I got it, I teased her about having a part — “Am I the love interest for Denzel?” I was afraid it was another Mammy.  I hate “Gone With the Wind.”  But then I read the first page – and stayed up all night.

Advertisement

She told us that Taylor is her best friend, like a brother.  She went with Stockett on the book tour because the book is written in alternating first-person narratives and while Stockett was willing to write in dialect, she did not want to read aloud the African-American character’s voices.  Spencer’s agents did not want her to go.  It was pilot season, and they thought she should be available for parts that came up in television.  But she went.  Still, she was afraid she would not get the part in the movie.  “Oh, God, there’s Mo’nique out there.  And Queen Latifah,” she thought.  But she got it.

Some of the challenges included driving the car from the 1960’s — no adjustable seat and no power breaks.  And the clothes of the period: “Girdles and pointy bras.  I’m a 200 lb woman – it’s all pushed in and sweaty.”  This was a different experience for her as an actress.  “I’m usually the humorous and sarcastic person in the drama.  Good to get a chance to use a different set of muscles.  There has to be that sense of what the danger was for these women.”  And, like the other people we spoke to, she was grateful for the inspiration they drew from the location and history of the community.  “Greenwood has a lot of history.  I’m still reconciling that and having it for Minnie.  The book makes that part of history palatable.  It’s about the relationships and the bonds between the characters.” And she spoke about her hopes for what we can learn from a story set half a century ago.  “What I love about this book is that we are having the conversations so that we can stop having the conversations.”

Previous Posts

Worst Accents in Movies
Thanks to Indiewire for including me in this great rundown of the all-time worst movie accents. Critics vented frustration and fury, many picking Quentin Tarantino and Dick van Dyke, but I went with two actors who played Robin ...

posted 2:13:18pm Aug. 28, 2015 | read full post »

Grandma
Lily Tomlin is cranky, feisty, tough, and utterly irresistible in this story of a grandmother who has to visit past decisions about her own life in order ...

posted 5:50:55pm Aug. 27, 2015 | read full post »

We Are Your Friends
Director Max Joseph brings some of the "Catfish" sensibility to "We Are Your Friends," with an intimate, documentary feel and a storyline ...

posted 5:35:22pm Aug. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Z for Zachariah
In 1959, a movie called The World, The Flesh And The Devil imagined a post-apocalyptic world with three surviving humans. In the words of the 1960's television series, "The Mod Squad," they could be described as "one black, one white, one ...

posted 5:31:48pm Aug. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Being Evel
Evel Knievel was an international celebrity in the 1960's-70's, known for three things: showmanship, stunts that succeeded, and stunts that failed. He was recognized for jumping over 19 cars in his motorcycle, for crash-landing after trying to ...

posted 5:13:51pm Aug. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.