The Stars of "Dreamgirls"
"I am so excited to tell you about this movie!" Oprah says. "It has kept me up for days thinking about it. The songs going in and out of my head. The acting. The music. It defines sensational. I am telling you, you will be dazzled!"
"When this project was coming along, it was like, well, who's going to be in it? And when I heard that Beyoncé was involved, when I heard that Eddie Murphy was involved ... You go to yourself, 'Look, it doesn't matter how much money you get paid. You want to be part of history.' This is what's going to be put in that time capsule. People are going to look back and see this movie, and this is going to develop their culture."
"I've been hearing about Dreamgirls, the musical, since I was 16. The second my choreographer, Frank, saw me he said, 'You're Deena.' And I was like, 'Who is Deena?' So I've been preparing for this role without even knowing for years."
Beyoncé's powerful stage presence nearly cost her the part, she says. "[The director] was concerned that I couldn't play young Deena because on the stage I'm so different. I'm so strong and really powerful," Beyoncé says. "So I did a screen test and I was the first person cast." Still, she had to keep her voice in check. "Deena had a very soft voice and she didn't have a lot of soul. So I couldn't grunt, I couldn't growl, I couldn't sing how I wanted until [the song] 'Listen,' which is that important moment."
"I wasn't nervous when I had to kiss Jamie," Beyoncé says. "I've done onscreen kisses before, and every time it makes you a little uncomfortable. I'm a singer first, so I still have to get used to that. But he was very professional, and I had to look at it as Deena kissing Curtis."
"Yes, that's the way I looked at it, too," Jamie jokes. "And I see your parents [in the audience]. I see your father out there!"
"It was cool," he says. "I was kind of going through some things myself, trying to get a record out. And when you meet these guys who are executives, sometimes they can be a little bit ruthless. The way I looked at the character, Curtis had to be unforgiving and as dark as he could be."
With an Oscar®-winning actor opposite her, the set became a learning experience for Beyoncé. "It was amazing to watch Jamie," she says. "I learned so much from him. When it's time for him to become the character, he just completely transformed. He helped me out a lot because he would do improvs ... he knew just what to say to get the right reactions."
Jennifer says that all the attention she's receiving feels like a blessing. "It's God's favor," she says. After auditioning three times in six months, Jennifer felt the decision was in the hands of a higher power. "I ended up on the church steps across the street from my house and I said, 'Lord, here I am. If it's meant for me, it's for me. Whatever your will is, that's what's best for me, and that's what I want,'" she says. "Two weeks later, they called me saying, 'Congratulations, Jennifer Hudson, you're Effie White.'"
Doing a love scene with Jamie was a different story. "I was so nervous the first time I had to kiss Jamie," Jennifer says. "You don't even get a chance to say 'Good morning,'" Jennifer says. "He walks in [to do the scene]."
"That's the best way to say 'Good morning,'" jokes Jamie.
"We have our history together, don't we, Jennifer?" Simon says. "Now I feel my criticism has probably had a significant part in your career, because the buzz on you is huge. I heard your [version] of 'And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going' today, and I would like to be the first to eat a massive dose of humble pie. Because there are good performances and occasionally there are extraordinary performances. That was extraordinary, Jennifer, and I feel very proud for you. I feel we had a very small part in what's happened in your life, and please thank me when you get your Oscar®."
"The shoes were absolutely killing me," she says. "I'm 5'2". Miss Jennifer is 5'9." Beyoncé is 5'6." So in order for me to be seen in the picture with the two of them ... I had on some heels that were at least 4 inches, and in the finale, 5 inches. I was ready to cut my feet off and give them away!"
Like the rest of the cast, Eddie does all his own singing in the film, but even he admits that the pop albums he put out in the '80s weren't a good example of what he could do. "I don't know if 'Party All the Time' gave you any [idea] of what was coming—that this was coming 20 years later," he jokes.
"This is the moment where Deena finally finds her voice," she explains. "The whole movie she's been manipulated and she's kind of lost her own opinions. I think a lot of women can relate to the lyrics."