The musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s classic 1982 book is coming to the big screen in 2023.
Oprah can’t wait for the new adaptation of The Color Purple. “To reinvent the movie at this time is to reinvent a phenomenon,” she explained. Her major film debut was as Sofia in the 1985 adaptation of Alice Walker’s 1982 Pulitzer Prize winning novel.
“It has been a vehicle for magic and purpose in my life,” Winfrey told Vanity Fair. “I don’t know anybody who’s ever been associated with it whose life didn’t get enhanced. Everything comes from the original words of Alice Walker, which were grounded in love, really. Love of this community. Love of these people. Love of those characters. And that just gets passed on and passed on and passed on. I can’t wait to see this next evolvement, which is not attached to having done it the way we’ve always done it.”
Today, Winfrey shared news of the actors and actresses who will star in the musical film, which Warner Bros. plans to release on December 20, 2023. The cast features Fantasia Taylor as Celie, Colman Domingo as Mister, Taraji P. Henson as Shug Avery, Danielle Brooks as Sofia, Halle Bailey as Nettie, Corey Hawkins as Harpo, and H.E.R. as Speak.
The Color Purple musical first premiered on Broadway in 2005, and was revived in 2016. Winfrey was a producer on both productions. The show garnered 11 Tony nominations in 2006, with one win for LaChanze as Best Actress in a Musical, and scored four Tonys nods in 2016 and two wins, including one for Best Revival of a Musical and one for Cynthia Erivo as Best Actress in a Musical.
The film adaptation of the musical will be directed by Blitz Bazawule, a Ghanian filmmaker who directed Beyoncé’s Black Is King, and the screenplay will be adapted by Marcus Gardley. Oprah will produce the film alongside Steven Spielberg, who directed her in the 1985 film, Quincy Jones, also a producer on the first film, and Scott Sanders, who produced both Broadway productions alongside Winfrey.
“Incorporating magical realism in this version of the story gives the audience a chance to go inside of Celie’s imagination,” Sanders told Vanity Fair. “In the early stages of Celie’s story, she is meek and small and in many ways passive. So we don’t really understand what’s going on inside that head of hers. We know there’s a lot going on, but we don’t know necessarily what it is.”
Fantasia Taylor played the role on Broadway in 2007, and Winfrey said they decided to cast her as Celie in the film because of her “rawness and vulnerability.”