Lee Daniels to make movie musical based on his own life

The director of Precious, The Butler and the TV series Empire is at work on a film with original songs about his turbulent past

Lee Daniels, the Oscar-nominated director of Precious, The Butler, The Paperboy and TV series Empire, is to make an autobiographical movie musical. Speaking to Billboard, Daniels, 59, said he was “in talks about doing a musical film about my life. I’ve had a pretty interesting life. I’ve come from the projects. I’ve been homeless.”

Daniels’ career began as a receptionist at a nursing agency, which he quit to found his own agency; it had 5,000 nurses affiliated with it by the time he was 21. After selling up he became an actors’ agent, representing Wes Bentley and Michael Shannon among others.

Daniels has been frank about his substance abuse during the period, saying: “Oh, back then, we all did drugs. I lived it up. Are you kidding?” When Halle Berry phoned Daniels after winning an Oscar for Monster’s Ball, which he had produced, he was “strung out, methed out of his mind” at Los Angeles’ Chateau Marmont.

Daniels attended a mostly white school, at which he has said his race and relative poverty made him a target for bullying. “I learned to train my bowel movements, my piss, so that I wouldn’t have to go to the bathroom all through school,” he told Out Magazine. “And then I’d run home.”

Daniels’s police officer father was killed in the line of duty in 1975. Daniels has said his father was physically abusive towards him, claiming he tried “to beat it [being gay] out of me”. He has claimed that his five siblings have all served time in prison. Daniels has adopted his niece and nephew.

In September 2015, Daniels was sued by Sean Penn for $10m (£7.7m) for defamation after Daniels equated Penn with the actor Terence Howard, who had been convicted of domestic violence. In May 2016, Daniels retracted the statement and apologised, after which Penn dropped the lawsuit.

Of the planned movie, Daniels said: “It’ll have original music and sort of be like Fellini’s 8 1/2 or All That Jazz.”


Catherine Shoard

The GuardianTramp

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