Producer and director Lee Daniels explains why he put his faith in Mariah Carey for two of his films ‘Tennessee’ & ‘Precious’. He also explains that the role in Tennessee was meant for Janet Jackson, they had not secured funding whilst she was putting on weight for the role. Just as Janet pulled out because she had to prepare her body for her new album coming out, they then secured funding…OMG…if i was Janet i don’t know how i would be feeling especially since the album wasn’t well received supported by the label…all that weight for nothing?
Well the good thing is that Lee was able to get to know Mariah and the rest as they say is history,
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Aaron Woodley had it the easiest of all of my directors. I hired him for his palate really, a visual that’s intoxicating. He did his thing, but I really didn’t do my thing. I did “Tennessee” because I wanted to show a sense of versatility, that I could do something that wasn’t too wild. I’d just come up from “Shadowboxer” — that was crazy. This is a lot tamer. I wanted to appeal to a specific demographic that I don’t ordinarily appeal to, which is, you know, those Republicans out there? People that voted for Sarah Palin? There was something simple about the movie. I didn’t have to think too hard, like, “What is the statement that we’re trying to make here?” I’m very good friends with Mariah [Carey]. I wanted to work with her, and I think that it prepared me for my work with her in “Precious,” ultimately.
“Tennessee” was originally written for Janet Jackson — she was the first person I had in mind. I said, “Janet, I don’t want to work with you if you don’t put on weight. I want you fat in this.” She put on all this weight for me. We were trying to raise the money and she was fat and she was like, “Lee! Lee!” [laughs] I didn’t realize how catastrophic it was until I’m looking at “Oprah” one day and she had gained all this weight for a movie that never happened. Oprah said, “Were you pissed?” She was a really good sport about it, but it was borderlining on obese. Finally she said, “Lee, I have a record to drop. I have to look good. This is insanity. This movie’s never going to happen.” Then as soon as she bailed, we got the money.
Mariah came down to my set on “Shadowboxer.” I just fell in love. She’s outrageous and fun and makes me laugh. People have this impression of her — I had that impression of her, until you know her and realize she’s making fun of herself. As we became friends I saw her do impersonations. She does an Aretha Franklin like no other. How can you impersonate Aretha Franklin? I said, “I’m gonna find a job for you.” I sent her the script and yeah; she did it. I was really glad.
I never thought about “Glitter.” I didn’t think it was bad. Her persona was so what it was — people didn’t understand her and she got a bad rap for it — she wasn’t bad in the movie. She was very nervous [doing "Tennessee"] because she knew that she had a perception of being… She saw me working and how serious I was and how we don’t have money. There’s no room for a masseur, for tardiness, for an extra hairdresser. The beauty of independent cinema for me is everybody’s doing something. During “Shadowboxer,” we all were down and drinking one day, Macy Gray, Monique, myself and Cuba. We had a scene, and Helen Mirren came down and got us out of a bar.
Thanks to MariahDailyTweet