Director Lee Daniels told Arsenio Hall that he doesn’t worry about whether “The Butler” wins awards — and that making the film helped him understand his father’s homophobia.
Asked about growing up gay in the ghetto, Daniels told Hall on Monday’s “Arsenio Hall Show,” “There was never a closet… My earliest memories were coming down the stairs in my mother’s high heels at six years old while my dad’s playing cards with the buddies.”
Daniels said his homosexuality always complicated his relationship with his father.
“He was embarrassed, I think,” Daniels said. “And I didn’t understand why he was so hard on me about being gay. And Arsenio, I didn’t realize until after I did ‘The Butler’ that at that time he was a second-class citizen and that he was called [expletive deleted]. He wasn’t a man. And so when he saw that I was gay he thought that that was even — ‘Oh my God, this kid, what is this kid going to encounter?’
Asked if his father was physically and verbally abusive, he replied, “I don’t think it was intentional.” Daniels added that his father and grandfather were both beaten as children, and that his great-grandfather was a slave. He said abuse was generational, and that he has stopped the cycle with his own child.
He also said African-American women have been very good to him.
“I think it’s great that African woman have embraced me and embraced my work and made me the man that I am,” he said.
Daniels said he wasn’t upset that “The Butler” has been largely passed over this awards season.
“The award comes from people like my mom who marched… and my cousins and my uncles that got their teeth knocked out for me to vote. That is the award, when they hug you and they tell you, ‘Oh my God — you have told our story. There is no award that you can take home that’s greater than that.”
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