Producer/director Lee Daniels, whose film “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” has taken in well over $100 million at the box office, is not a man of fear, or of conformity.
People can debate his work…praise it…criticize it…dissect it…embrace it…dismiss it.
That matters little. What counts most is personal and artistic gratification.
“When I make movies I don’t ever go out there to please everyone, just myself,” said Daniels boldly. “I never try to make a film for the masses. I just try to tell a story. I won’t sell my soul to Hollywood to make run-of-the-mill stuff.”
But even so, Hollywood has been good to him. Another of his controversial films, “Precious,” earned him a Best Director Academy Award nomination and a Best Supporting Actress win for Mo’Nique. The movie also brought Gabourney Sidibe to the public’s attention.
Still another film that had tongues wagging, “Monster’s Ball,” resulted in star Halle Berry taking home a Best Actress Oscar.
Daniels elaborated further during an open discussion with Interview magazine.
“I think that when you have audacity, you will get polarization,” he said. “I don’t work with fear, and I don’t work with actors who are fearful.”
Regarding receiving brickbats, he stated, “I’m ready for it, but that’s not going to change my view or outlook on filmmaking. I think I have to tell the truth. It hurts a little bit that it is polarizing and everybody doesn’t get it.
“But it only hurts because of my actors. To go where they went, they had to be fearless, and bear their souls in a way that they hadn’t before. I can take a bullet. I just don’t like it for my actors.”
Later he added, “I want to go places that are unexpected of me, because people really think they have me pegged.”