“Sisters are forever.”
The first trailer for “The Color Purple” presents the proclamation for viewers with their first look at the Blitz Bazawule-directed reimagining of the story made iconic in the 1982 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker, the 1985 Warner Bros. Pictures film and the Tony Award-winning stage musical.
Called a “revival” by producer Oprah Winfrey during the trailer’s presentation, the preview gives a brief look at how the film tells the powerful and heartbreaking story of Celie, a young Black woman living in the South from the early to mid-1900s, who finds strength in an extraordinary sisterhood and unbreakable bond.
“The reason this moment is so important is because for as long as there is a need for self-discovery, self-empowerment, as long as there’s a need for victory in someone’s life, as long as there’s a need for people to know what it feels like to be loved up and to be made full and whole through somebody’s love, there will be a need for ‘The Color Purple’,” Winfrey told journalists.
Steven Spielberg and Quincy Jones serve as producers alongside Winfrey, a full-circle moment for the trio since Spielberg directed the film adaptation in which Winfrey made her film debut and Jones produced.
Fantasia Barrino makes her major motion picture debut by reprising the role of adult Celie, which she first portrayed in her Broadway debut in 2007 and won a Theatre World Award for. Danielle Brooks stars alongside her as Sofia, a role that she played on Broadway during the 2015 revival production, which earned her a Tony Award nomination.
The star-studded cast includes Taraji P. Henson as Shug Avery, Colman Domingo as Mister, Phylicia Mpasi as Young Celie, Corey Hawkins as Harpo, H.E.R. as Squeak, Louis Gossett Jr. as Ol’ Mister, David Alan Grier as Reverend Avery, Tamela J. Mann as First Lady, Halle Bailey as Young Nettie, Ciara as Adult Nettie, Deon Cole as Alfonso and Stephen Hill as Buster.
ET spoke with Fantasia in April 2022 about diving back into the story of Celie and Sofia and the star admitted she came close to shutting the door on the opportunity. And her experience — personally and professionally — during her time on the Broadway musical from 2006 to 2007 was almost to blame.
“My life at that time was all over the place,” Fantasia said about playing Celie for nearly nine months onstage. “So, carrying Celie’s weight and my weight was not fun. And I remember saying in interviews and radio stations when they would ask me, I said, ‘Well, I did it, but I’ll never do it again.”
Enter Scott Sanders, one of “The Color Purple”‘s producers, who called Fantasia about the role, but she already had her answer prepared.
“‘I can’t go back, I can’t do that again, Scott,’” Fantasia recalled telling Sanders. “And he says, ‘Listen, I know where you are in your life right now. I see that you’re married. I’m so proud of you and I’m so happy. But, there’s no one else that can do this. We need you to do this.”
When Fantasia finally came on board, she admitted that being on the set triggered a roller coaster of emotions.
“It’s been hard on set, it’s been funny on set, it’s been emotional on set, it’s been cold, it’s been hot,” she said. “I will say this too — some of the places that we are filming has been heavy, because literally we have slave homes that have been there for years behind us. We can feel our ancestors. So, it’s heavy. But it also reminds us that they paved the way for us. It also reminds us how far — to be an all-Black cast — we want to push the heavens for our ancestors and for our generation today.”
Bailey, who makes her leading actress debut as Ariel in “The Little Mermaid” on May 26, recently told ET that being part of “The Color Purple” was “an amazing moment for me because it’s such a staple film in our community.”
She added: “I remember my grandparents would always have it like playing in the background and I was just really excited to be a part of it. Not only because I’m such a fan of the [people] that are in it, like Fantasia who is vocal genius and Colman Domingo and Danielle Brooks — I mean [there are] just such amazing Black talent in the film that I was just happy to be there to witness.”
The 23-year-old described the set as “a fun family reunion,” gushing about how it was similar to seeing “all your aunties and cousins.”
“It literally felt just like that and I was excited to play young Nettie because I felt I had [that] experience of sisterhood, that bond that I have with my sister, Chlöe,” she added, speaking to the film’s theme of strength in sisterhood. “I felt like I was able to pull from my experiences with her and apply it to the beautiful relationship between Celie and Nettie. And even though Nettie goes away for almost half the film… you feel her love.”
“The Color Purple” opens in theaters on Dec. 25.
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