'The Color Purple' Producers Wanted Beyoncé or Rihanna for New Musical Remake, Oprah Reveals

Oprah starred in the 1985 original, which was directed by Steven Spielberg and earned Winfrey an Oscar nomination. She's back as a producer this time around.

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Ahead of the Christmas Day release of The Color Purple, Oprah Winfrey has revealed some of the powers that be initially pushed to land a big-name pop star such as Beyoncé or Rihanna.

In a new Hollywood Reporter cover story, editorial director Nekesa Mumbi Moody writes that the film “had to endure the struggles of other Black productions, from fighting for the cast [director Blitz Bazawule] wanted, to pushing to get more resources.”

Oprah, who starred in the original 1985 and produced the musical remake, detailed how the production team started searching for an A-list singer as soon as the budget hit a certain threshold.

"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," Winfrey said. "Once the film moved to $90 to $100 million, then everybody wants us to bring Beyoncé. '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.'"

She added, "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."

Back in October, Oprah shared in a cover story for Essence how much she earned for her role in Steven Spielberg's adaptation of the Alice Walker novel in 1985.

“I can’t even begin to tell you what it means to me—a person who wanted nothing more in my life than to be in The Color Purple,” Oprah said at the time. “And God taught me to surrender—that was the big lesson for me. They were only offering $35,000 to be in this film, and it is the best $35,000 I ever earned. It changed everything and taught me so much. It is God moving through my life.”

Directed by Blitz Bazawule, The Color Purple hits theaters Dec. 25 and stars Fantasia Barrino, Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks, H.E.R., and Halle Bailey. Spielberg is back as a producer, along with Alice Walker, Quincy Jones, and more.

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