Oprah Winfrey as Gloria Gaines, left, and Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines in a scene from 'Lee Daniels' The Butler.'
LOS ANGELES — When Beloved starring Oprah Winfrey fell flat at the box office in 1998, Winfrey drowned her sorrows in macaroni and cheese.
She found a different way to celebrate when Lee Daniels’ The Butler, her first big-screen performance since Beloved, hit No. 1 in its debut last weekend.
“I actually got a purple Hula Hoop that I bring out for occasions like this,” Winfrey said this week. “So I brought out that Hula Hoop in the front yard.”
The scant turnout for Beloved, based on Toni Morrison’s novel, caught Winfrey by surprise after the reception of 1985’s The Color Purple, the Steven Spielberg film in which she made her big-screen debut and which earned her an Oscar nomination.
“I didn’t know that by Saturday morning you could already know that you’re a loser,” she said, referring to how quickly a new film’s performance is judged. “So Saturday morning I get the call that [Beloved) was beat out by Bride of Chucky.”