'The Color Purple' blends original story with Broadway musical in new version for next generation

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Wednesday, December 27, 2023
'The Color Purple' is re-imagined for new generation as movie musical
Close to 40 years after the original film, "The Color Purple" has been re-imagined for a new generation, blending the original story with parts of the hit Broadway musical.

HOLLYWOOD -- "The Color Purple" was a novel by Alice Walker published in 1982. It became a movie in '85 and was nominated for 11 Oscars. In 2005, it hit Broadway as a musical. Now, as we end 2023, "The Color Purple" is a movie musical.

Close to 40 years after the original film, "The Color Purple" has been re-imagined for a new generation, led by director Blitz Bazawule. The story focuses on the journey of Celie, who has had a very difficult, often traumatizing life. The role first played by Whoopi Goldberg is now in the hands of Fantasia Barrino.

"This is hard work. This is heavy work. And so I knew that. If I was going to step into it, I had to fully go into it. And that's not easy," said Barrino. "But it's a story that needed to be told for our generation, for my girls, her children, for Fria. You know, I had to step into it. What an honor but heavy at the same time."

Danielle Brooks plays Sofia, the role originally played by Oprah Winfrey, who is a producer on this film.

"The easiest way to swallow our hurt and pain and deal with the things that we're dealing with is through laughter. You know what I'm saying. So I enjoy getting to bring that to the screen," said Brooks. "As people are processing their trauma through the eyes of Celie, they also can swallow some of the stuff that they're dealing with the laughter that Sofia brings."

Also bringing laughter and joy to the screen - Taraji P. Henson as Shug Avery, played by Margaret Avery in the original film. She turned down the same role when it was offered on Broadway.

"What is destined for you is going to find you, even if you try to run because I ran and what happened? Shug came right back full circle. And I couldn't say no, thank you," said Henson. "But I couldn't say no because Blitz made it impossible for me to say no because of his radical reimagining."

Had Taraji said yes to Broadway, she would have worked with Fantasia and Danielle back then. Both played the same roles on stage.

"The Color Purple" is rated PG-13. It will be in theaters on Christmas Day.

WATCH: Phylicia Pearl Mpasi makes movie debut in 'The Color Purple'

Among the stars of the new version of "The Color Purple" is a young actress making her movie debut. Phylicia Pearl Mpasi plays the young Celie in the film, which she says is all about the power of love.