The Color Purple

The Color Purple: filming is finally underway for the star-studded musical film, produced by Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg

Posted by and for Film

The Color Purple is getting a new musical adaptation and, as well as being produced by Oprah Winfrey, some further exciting casting announcements have just been revealed.

Whether it’s a bestselling novel being adapted for the small screen or our favourite podcast being transformed into a gritty drama, changing up the medium of a work of art gets us all excited here at Stylist.

The Color Purple – as well as being a Pulitzer Prize-winning 1982 novel – went on to become a popular 1985 movie, in which stars such as Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey cut their teeth in Hollywood and, more recently, was redone as a Tony award-winning Broadway musical.

And now, the movie is being adapted again – this time as a musical film and so many big names are involved both in front and behind the camera. 

As well as Taraji P Henson being confirmed to lead the cast as Shug Avery, another big name is set to star in the upcoming Oprah Winfrey-produced adaptation. According to Entertainment Weekly, Ciara will be joining the cast as the adult version of Nellie. 

Ciara The Color Purple
Ciara has been confirmed to join the cast of the upcoming The Color Purple adaptation.

While it may seem like an odd choice to enlist such an acclaimed singer, it actually makes total sense that the platinum-certified artist would lend her vocals to the new musical movie. Blessing us with hit singles like Goodies and Level Up, we can’t wait to see how the singer makes the upcoming role her own.

Taraji P Henson
Taraji P Henson will star as Shug Avery in the new The Color Purple musical film.

Fantasia Taylor and Danielle Brooks – who have both played their respective roles on the Broadway version of The Color Purple – are also joining the cast of the upcoming film.

Taylor will star as Celie, who she originally played on Broadway from 2007 to 2008, while Brooks will star as Sofia, a role that earned her a Tony award for her onstage performance from 2015 to 2017.

Additionally, Halle Bailey, who is also set to be the lead in Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid as Ariel, has been cast as Nettie, Celie’s younger sister. Speaking about Ciara’s casting as the older version of Bailey’s character, she said to Entertainment Tonight: “I love Ciara so much, so, it’s super cool.

“I mean, it’s historic because we grew up watching The Color Purple, everybody knows the story, so, I’m just grateful to be a part of it and bringing my own thing to it,” she added.

Halle Bailey
Halle Bailey will be starring as Nettie in The Color Purple.

The new Warner Bros. movie will be directed by Blitz Bazawule, who is best known for his work on Beyoncé’s Black Is King and The Burial Of Kojo

But the big behind-the-scenes names don’t stop there – Oprah Winfrey, who made her feature acting debut in the 1985 film as Sofia, will be producing the new movie alongside Steven Spielberg.

Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey will produce The Color Purple's new musical adaptation.

The original Spielberg film followed the story of Celie Harris (Goldberg), a young African-American girl who encounters and attempts to overcome major issues that plague her life. As well as experiencing domestic violence, racism, sexism and incest, Celie’s life is transformed as she discovers her self-worth with the help of two friends, Sofia (Winfrey) and Shug Avery (Margaret Avery).

The stage musical follows the same premise – and even starred singer and actor Jennifer Hudson – so it’s likely that the new film will contain much of the same plotlines, alongside some brilliant new songs.

Other confirmed cast members also include recent Oscar nominee and King Richard star Aunjanue Ellis who will play Mama, mother to Celie and Nettie. The Dropout’s Elizabeth Marvel will also be joining the cast as Miss Millie – the unpleasant and overbearing mayor’s wife who hires Sofia (played by Brooks) to be her maid. The character was played by Dana Ivey in Spielberg’s 1985 film.

Corey Hawkins (In The Heights, Straight Outta Compton) and Oscar and Grammy-winning artist H.E.R will also star in the new film as Harpo (originally played by Willard Pugh in the 1985 film) and Squeak (previously played by Rae Dawn Chong) respectively.

Now, our excitement for the new film has notched up tenfold with director Dan Laustsen announcing that filming has finally begun. He shared the sentiment on Instagram where he posted a picture of The Color Purple’s clapper board with “#Day1” as his caption.

While we’re still a way off until the film’s release (it’s been confirmed for December 2023), we’ll be sure to update you with any new trailers, casting announcements and more.

Watch this space.

The Color Purple is set to be released on 20 December 2023.

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