“Incorporating magical realism in this version of the story gives the audience a chance to go inside of Celie’s imagination,”
By Emily Burack
Oprah can’t wait for the new adaptation of The Color Purple. “To reinvent the movie at this time is to reinvent a phenomenon,” she explained. Her major film debut was as Sofia in the 1985 adaptation of Alice Walker’s 1982 Pulitzer Prize winning novel.
“It has been a vehicle for magic and purpose in my life,” Winfrey told Vanity Fair. “I don’t know anybody who’s ever been associated with it whose life didn’t get enhanced. Everything comes from the original words of Alice Walker, which were grounded in love, really. Love of this community. Love of these people. Love of those characters. And that just gets passed on and passed on and passed on. I can’t wait to see this next evolvement, which is not attached to having done it the way we’ve always done it.”
Here’s everything we know about The Color Purple musical film.
Oprah Announced the Cast in Early 2022.
In February 2022, Winfrey shared news of the actors and actresses who will star in the musical film. The cast features Fantasia Taylor as Celie, Colman Domingo as Mister, Taraji P. Henson as Shug Avery, Danielle Brooks as Sofia, Halle Bailey as Nettie, Corey Hawkins as Harpo, and H.E.R. as Speak.
The Color Purple musical first premiered on Broadway in 2005, and was revived in 2016. Winfrey was a producer on both productions. The show garnered 11 Tony nominations in 2006, with one win for LaChanze as Best Actress in a Musical, and scored four Tonys nods in 2016 and two wins, including one for Best Revival of a Musical and one for Cynthia Erivo as Best Actress in a Musical.
Fantasia Taylor played the role on Broadway in 2007, and Winfrey said they decided to cast her as Celie in the film because of her “rawness and vulnerability.” Also returning from a Broadway cast is Danielle Brooks, who played Sofia in the 2016 revival. Watch Winfrey surprise Brooks with the news of her casting below:
A month after the news of the initial cast came out, Entertainment Weekly announced that singer Ciara has joined the cast—as the adult version of Halle Baile’s Nettie. Ciara, a pop star, has only appeared in three major movie roles in her career. She wrote on her Instagram Stories, “Truly an honor to work with you in this beautiful masterpiece Blitz! Thanks for having me!”
Blitz Bazawule will direct The Color Purple.
The film adaptation of the musical, based on Walker’s novel, will be directed by Blitz Bazawule, a Ghanian filmmaker who directed Beyoncé’s Black Is King, and the screenplay will be adapted by Marcus Gardley. Oprah will produce the film alongside Steven Spielberg, who directed her in the 1985 film, Quincy Jones, also a producer on the first film, and Scott Sanders, who produced both Broadway productions alongside Winfrey.
“Incorporating magical realism in this version of the story gives the audience a chance to go inside of Celie’s imagination,” Sanders told Vanity Fair. “In the early stages of Celie’s story, she is meek and small and in many ways passive. So we don’t really understand what’s going on inside that head of hers. We know there’s a lot going on, but we don’t know necessarily what it is.”
The Production Wrapped Filming in July 2022.
“I have no doubt we have created something special and can’t wait to share with the world,” Bazawule wrote on Instagram. Oprah commented, “It’s Gonna be SPECTACULAR – for sure!”
Other cast members also took to Instagram to share memories from the shoot. “i’m so very grateful to have had this experience,” Halle Bailey, who plays Nettie, wrote.
“Thank You Lady for what you have shown me and what you’ll show so many Black Girls who needs to hear and see your story,” Fantasia Taylor wrote to her character, Celie.
In April 2023, Bazawule shared that post production has ended on The Color Purple. “I can’t wait for the world to experience this magnificent film. 🙏🏿💜,” he shared.
The Color Purple Will Hit Theaters on December 25, 2023.
The first trailer for the Color Purple dropped in May 2023. When the trailer premiered, Oprah said, “This movie is a revival for joy, a revival for hope, for forgiveness.”