He’s successful now but Lee Daniels has definitely not lived a charmed life.
The Hollywood writer, producer and director is the subject of an intriguing OUT magazine cover story. Check out some of the excerpts below:
Although he plays it down, Daniels’s childhood was fogged by the kind of family dysfunction and struggle that animates his movies. He remembers his father — a cop who was killed during a raid on a Philly bar when Daniels was 15 — dumping him in a trash can after catching him in his mother’s red pumps. “When I came out it was because I loathed my dad so much — I couldn’t understand how you could, with an extension cord, beat a 45-pound kid just because he’s aware of his femininity,” he says. “For me it really created a world where I understood Precious, where you learn the power of the imagination. And that’s how it began for me.”
Sad right. But at least he was able to turn a negative to a positive.
Daniels also reveals his struggles with drug addiction and how he doesn’t feel at home in Hollywood:
The narrative of Daniels’s hard-living, hard-working life is a movie in itself, and maybe one day he’ll make it. He watched lovers die of AIDS in his arms (“I was HIV-negative when everyone around me was dying — I should be dead”), hit rock bottom on crystal meth, and came by his two adopted kids in an unlikely way: after his brother was jailed. “He called and said, ‘I’m going to be there for a long time; I got this girl pregnant, she doesn’t want the kids, and I have a feeling she’s going to abandon them.’ ” No wonder he doesn’t feel comfortable in the slick, oily culture of Los Angeles. “In L.A. they make you feel insecure, like you’re always looking at the stars and you feel like you’re not one of them,” he says. “You feel like, ‘I’m nothing.’ It was what my father told me I was, and I knew I had to get out of there.”
But the man who has already won Oscars for his movies Monster’s Ball (which he produced) and Precious is aware that his insecurities are an inseparable part of his talent. “It’s always when things are really good for me that I feel I’m not worthy of it,” he says. “When Halle [Berry] won her Oscar [for Monster’s Ball], I remember her calling, saying, ‘Are you going to the Vanity Fair party?’ and I’m strung out in the Chateau Marmont, methed out of my mind, thinking I didn’t deserve it.” He pauses.
“I have to be really aware of it, and always talking about it — and be truthful about it to the point of ugliness so that it keeps my a$$ in check.”
Uh let’s hope he wasn’t parenting his brother’s kids during that Chateau Marmont period.
After living such an interesting life, we gotta wonder if Lee will ever make a picture about his own experiences.