Music

Oprah Says There Was Pressure to Cast Beyoncé or Rihanna in ‘The Color Purple’

As The Color Purple draws nearer, the film’s star-studded cast and production team are hitting the media circuit to promote their forthcoming movie musical. In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Oprah — who serves alongside Steven Spielberg, Scott Sanders and Quincy Jones as one of the film’s producers — recounted the process of bringing the films to life, including some pressure to cast a star on the level of Beyoncé or Rihanna.

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“To be completely honest about it, if you were doing this film for $30 or $40 million, the interest in the cast would be very different. Once the film moved to $90 to $100 million, then everybody wants us to bring Beyoncé,” Oprah said. “‘Can you get Beyoncé or can you get Rihanna?’ So we’re sitting in a room saying, ‘Listen, we love Beyoncé. We love Rihanna, but there are other actors who can do this job.’”

Of course, both Beyoncé (Dreamgirls, Obsessed, Austin Powers in Goldmember) and Rihanna (Ocean’s 8, Battleship, Home) have made plenty of crossovers into the film world, but The Color Purple cast came together without the two music titans. The Blitz Bazawule-helmed picture is led by 2024 Golden Globes nominee Fantasia Barrino, with fellow nominee Danielle Brooks, Taraji P. Henson, Halle Bailey, Colman Domingo, Corey Hawkins, Ciara, H.E.R. and Phylicia Pearl Mpasi rounding out the ensemble.

While Rihanna has been busy with partner A$AP Rocky and their new bundle of joy, Riot Rose, Beyoncé has been dominating theaters on her own. The “Break My Soul” singer recently topped the domestic box office with Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé, a documentary concert film that chronicles the creation and execution of Queen Bey’s Billboard 200-topping Renaissance album and its record-breaking world tour.

Clearly, the powers that be were aware that landing Queen Bey would be a tall ask. “I do remember conversations about, ‘Y’all, Beyoncé is going to be busy this year.’ It wasn’t even a negotiation, because you’re not getting Beyoncé,’” Oprah quipped.

The Color Purple is the film adaptation of the 2005 Tony Award-winning stage musical of the same name, which is, in turn, based on the 1982 Alice Walker novel and its accompanying 1985 Oscar-nominated film. On Dec. 15, The Color Purple (Music From and Inspired By) will hit DSPs, featuring original songs from Usher, Alicia Keys, Megan Thee Stallion, Coco Jones, Mary Mary, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, Keyshia Cole, Black Thought, Jorja Smith and more.

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