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'The Help' proves to be a hit as book, movie

August 22, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
With another $20 million in earnings, "The Help" jumped to first place in its second weekend at the box office, overtaking "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and beating new releases "Spy Kids: All the Time in the World 4D" and "Conan the Barbarian."

People are still reading "The Help," which has been a bestseller for the past two years. And for the past two weeks, the movie has proved it can be a hit, too.

Kathryn Stockett wrote the novel, which takes place in Mississippi during the civil rights era, and handed it over to a lifelong friend, Tate Taylor, to bring to the big screen.

"We met when we were 5 years old in Jackson, Mississippi. We grew up in that environment. We had mothers who had Black help in the home and these Black women had huge impact in our lives," Stockett said. "It was so important to me writing the book that I not make these women victims. They didn't think of themselves as victims."

"They're real smart, intelligent women with families who are educated and they just, unfortunately, only get to do a couple of things to feed themselves," said Taylor, who directed the film and wrote the screenplay.

Taylor surrounded himself with actors and behind-the-scenes people from his past to help create a real feeling of family. Both Stockett and Taylor agreed it was vitally important to actually make the movie in Mississippi.

"We as southerners know what Mississippi is. It's this place that these actresses and these people fell in love with and they couldn't quite sum up why. It's a complicated, beautiful, complex place of life and death and we just wanted that on screen," Taylor said.

"You can't not be in character when you're in Mississippi. You can feel it all around you. It's in the humidity; it's in the food; it's in the accents; it's in the locusts at night," Stockett said.

Taylor says he felt lucky he had so many talented people in his life.

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