In "Lee Daniels' The Butler," Oprah plays the wife of the title character -- her first major movie role in more than a decade. Because it had been a while since her return to the big screen, Oprah had some concerns about her acting ability. So, when "The Butler" cast sat down for an exclusive Q&A for Oprah.com, moderator Gayle King steered the conversation toward how Oprah prepared for the role.
"Oprah used to always say, 'I just don't want to embarrass myself,'" King states, turning to Oprah. "It never occurred to me that you would embarrass yourself, but to my knowledge, it's the first time you ever hired an acting coach."
"Well, at his suggestion," Oprah says, gesturing to movie director Lee Daniels, as the audience laughs. "Lee had worked with [the acting coach] and used her for other actors before and he said, 'It's an instrument. You haven't picked up the instrument in, what, 17 years? And if you're going to pick up an instrument, you need to tune that instrument.'"
To prepare for the role, there was a specific action that Oprah wanted to focus on. "I, as you know, have problems crying. Everybody thinks that I'm a good crier, an easy crier," she says. "I can cry if I'm in the moment and feeling emotion, but as an actress, that was one of my biggest fears."
Oprah's acting coach, who has also coached celebrities such as Tom Cruise, was the one who helped Oprah learn to cry on cue for the movie. The method the coached used, however, remains a mystery. "She came into my house and… I'm not telling y'all the story, but in 20 minutes, I was like, 'Oh, lord,'" Oprah recalls.