The Color Purple, released in 1986, is a heart-wrenching journey inside a world few films have dared to explore. This critically acclaimed epic, which was adapted from Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize–winning novel and directed by Steven Spielberg, chronicles the lives of poor African-American women born in Georgia in the early 1900s. Despite its controversial themes, The Color Purple became a box-office success after its release in 1985. It went on to earn 11 Oscar nominations.
At the time, the movie's cast was virtually unknown. Oprah made her big-screen debut as Sofia shortly after landing her own talk show, and Whoopi Goldberg, who landed the role of Celie, was performing comedy and one-woman shows when she was discovered. Danny Glover was cast to play Celie's husband after acting in just a few movies. These actors and their co-stars—Margaret Avery, Rae Dawn Chong, Akosua Busia, Desreta Jackson, and Willard Pugh, to name a few—all breathed life into gritty, unforgettable characters.
See Oprah and Whoopi's emotional reunion
Twenty-five years later, on a November 2010 Oprah Show, cast members reflected on the making of the film. Oprah said playing Sofia still ranks as one of the great highlights of her life. "I never had more fun in my life than doing The Color Purple," she said.