Queen Latifah talks about the behind-the-scenes chemistry on ‘Steel Magnolias’

The rapper-turned-actress shares the best part of the cast’s time together

Queen Latifah talks about the behind-the-scenes chemistry on ‘Steel Magnolias’
.

View photo

Queen Latifah.

It's a bold move remaking a classic film like "Steel Magnolias." After all the original cast included silver screen luminaries Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Julia Roberts, and Daryl Hannah. The only way to really pull it off is to assemble an equally stellar cast and find a bit of a twist.

An all-star cast recreates the classic movie

That's what executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron did when they kicked-off an all African-American version of the story with another group of megastars -- Alfre Woodard, Phylicia Rashad, Jill Scott, Condola Rashad, Adepero Oduye, and Queen Latifah, who also serves as an executive producer.

The rapper turned Oscar-nominated actress took on the role of M'Lynn, which was originally created by Sally Field in the feature film version. The character struggles with her grown daughter's illness throughout life's many ups and downs. In a recent conference call interview, Queen Latifah talked about mounting the ambitious project.

Queen Latifah credits a supportive cast for the movie's success

In discussing how she tackled the emotionally charged role, Latifah noted, "I got a great amount of support from our veteran actors. In Phylicia and Alfre, who I know all of them, and they've always been supportive."

She also acknowledged that they, in turn, were inspired by some of the younger artists who worked on the project. Among them is Condola Rashad, Phylicia's 25-year-old Tony Award-nominated daughter, who plays Queen Latifah's on-screen offspring.

'Steel Magnolias' features a mix of established and emerging talent

The Golden Globe winner credited the mix of established and emerging talent with being part of the projects key to success. She acknowledged, "It was almost like a whirlpool of acting talent, love, support, pushing, challenging, because it's not all about just a love fest. It's about challenging each other and really expecting you to do your job at the end of the day."

Queen Latifah revealed that she looked upon elder stateswoman Phylicia Rashad as a role model on the film. Not only is she Condola's real-life mom, but as Latifah pointed out, she was the "world's mom" when she portrayed Clair Huxtable on "The Cosby Show" from 1984 to 1992. She remarked, "I mean, she was the Michelle Obama before Michelle Obama."

The cast of 'Steel Magnolias' bonded during beautification

But a grueling 18-day shoot didn't give the cast a lot of downtime. So the actresses did what the women in the film do -- they bonded while getting beautified. Latifah recounted, "The best of our down time was just being in the hair and makeup trailer together, just playing music and watching videos. Because Adepero and Condola were always on the iPad and… I'm always playing house music... And Alfre is telling us the stories of things and crying because her kids are moving onto college and running out the house. But it's very serene."

Tune in to the premiere of "Steel Magnolias" on Sunday, 10/7 at 9 PM EST on Lifetime.

More from this contributor:

'Married to the Army: Alaska': The stars talk about the challenges they are facing

TV, mobile apps, books: Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner discuss their current projects

Travis Wall discusses starting a dance troupe on 'All the Right Moves'

View Comments