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Oprah Winfrey in "Beloved"

Don't mention the 'O-word' around Oprah

Web posted on: Thursday, October 15, 1998 9:39:00 AM

From Correspondent Michael Okwu

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Even as "Beloved," the movie based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Toni Morrison novel and starring Oprah Winfrey, looks forward to its national release, there are already whispers of Oscar.

But don't tell Winfrey that. Mention the Academy Awards and you just might dispel the magical buzz around "Beloved."

"We don't talk about Oscar," the talk show host and actress says. "Oh, we don't mention the O-word!"


'This was necessary'

Winfrey's apprehension is understandable. Morrison's story of a runaway slave visited by the spirit of her deceased daughter has been on Winfrey's mind for 11 years. At some point, the movie -- which Winfrey has called her "Schindler's List" -- became an obsession.

"This wasn't just work," she says. "This was necessary. This was part of the reason I was born."

Winfrey says she tried to climb into the mind of her fictional counterpart, Sethe.

"What I felt was that -- what it would have taken to have that kind of strength and courage, to stand, to run, not even knowing which way north is but I gotta get milk for my babies," she says.


'A dance in sharing'

Danny Glover co-stars as Paul D, a battle-worn face from the Sweet Home plantation. He says working with Winfrey was a pleasure.

"Playing opposite her was just a dance in sharing -- a beautiful dance in sharing," Glover says. "We were like singing a song to each other."

Oprah's role in "Beloved" comes 13 years after she received an Oscar nomination for her acting debut in "The Color Purple."

This role has made her catnip for newsstands everywhere, where she's been seen in everything from magazine cover cameos to full, top-billing write-ups. It's hard to believe she experiences fear from her perch at the top of the world.

"There are moments that I felt during the creation of (Sethe) that I didn't know if I could," she says. "You're feeling like, 'Oh lord, what have I done? I don't know if I can do this!' And it was scary for me, who's usually in control of my life."

But beyond being a talk show host and actress, influencing other lives is what she does best.

"To me it's like -- life is about being," she says. "It's not about doing. It's not about the next thing you do. It's about how do you be better. How do you be of greater service. How do you be what the Creator would have intended."

And although she had a bit more to say, she still wouldn't mention Oscar.

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