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August 19th, 2013
11:25 PM ET

The team from "Lee Daniels' The Butler" talks race in America

On the heels of a monstrous $25 million opening weekend by Lee Daniels' The Butler, on Monday evening Piers Morgan welcomed Daniels, the film's director, as well as actor Cuba Gooding Jr., actor Lenny Kravitz, and screenwriter and actor Danny Strong.

As the film tackles the polarizing topic of race, and racism, in America, Morgan asked Daniels if the nation is more or less bigoted since Barack Obama was elected president:

"That's a powerful question," Daniels began. "I think that people are angry that he's president and I think that they are showing their true colors and I think that when Danny Strong wrote those words, 'any black man could be killed by any white man and get away with it,' Trayvon Martin had not happened. I end the movie with hope. He's walking down and Obama's giving that famous speech and then I come out of my edit room and Trayvon Martin has happened."

With sorrow on his face, Daniels was left to conclude that modern-day America is in fact more racist with an African-American in the White House.

"Sadly, I think so," Daniels admitted.

Seated directly to the director's left, Kravitz revealed his own struggles with racism as a child:

"In growing up, going to school, you always bump into that kind of thing by certain individuals. Has the world gotten better in general?" asked the man who captured four consecutive Grammy's for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance from 1999 to 2002. "Yes... In general, things are getting better with each generation."

Gooding Jr., meanwhile, hopes the films opens up a dialogue for youth to be able to effectively talk about race:

"What has happened with the youth there's been a real disconnect with the civil rights movement and the history of it," noted the 45-year-old who made catch-phrases like "I love the Black man," and "Show me the money," household fodder. "I think this movie opens that dialogue so that you can make your decisions as an African-American or an American what is the best way to go about your relationships with people."

Specifically, Gooding Jr., said, "Lee Daniels' The Butler" uses the complicated element of conflicted, dual personalities to demonstrate its message:

"The film uses that mechanism of showing the two faces that professional blacks have to wear. But I think it's not just blacks. I think it's people. Your professional face is one thing and your relaxed face is another and I think that's what was so beautiful with the butlers that we use, the behind the scenes, the bantering in the house and the relationships of family," he told Morgan. "I think that's important to convey and I think that's what this movie does so beautifully with Lee Daniels' direction."

Watch the clip for more of Morgan's interview with the team from "Lee Daniels' The Butler," and for the next edition of "Piers Morgan Live," watch CNN every night at 9.
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soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. joan w christian

    Well, it is definitely in the very near future that no one will want to visit America. The senseless shootings, killings of innocent people has reached a high of that is just not matched. If I lived in another country, I certainly would not want to visit here for fear of my life, whether it be walking, running, eating in a restaurant, etc. It is so scary what is happening in our country. What a reputation we are building.

    August 20, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • max

      Hollywood makes the gangers cool to be one. the gangers now writing songs. What does the law do? Kill all the gangers band all the songs and movies about gangers . You a gamgers you are dead. End of problem.

      August 23, 2013 at 3:42 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Free media is a good thing

    Google & inform your self

    " Saudi Rulers Pour Money Into Arming Militants in Region"
    By Finian Cunningham

    August 20, 2013 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Thank you

      August 20, 2013 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Jonster

    This is fictionalized account of a real butler in the White House has a plot wholly unrelated to reality. The Butler did have a son who died bravely in Vietnam. But The Butler did not resign and protest with his (fictional) older son. The real Butler was respected by those for whom he worked and he also respected the Presidents he served. This is fictionalized account which is designed to get us "talking about race" seems a bit disingenuous to me.

    August 21, 2013 at 11:24 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. fuzzboxx

    let's have a talk about race in america. let's start with three black kids killing a white guy for fun.

    August 21, 2013 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • JamieDean

      Weren't one of them white? You are so pathetic. You white people always ignore facts to try to make you misguided BS statements.

      August 21, 2013 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • sudowario

      Why is that more important than other murders (oh and one of the kids was white)? Why do you care about this one murder? Was it because they let the kids go because they were standing their ground? Is it because you're most likely white like the person murdered?

      "It's reverse racism I say"!!!! I say you're as fake as a 15 dollar bill.

      August 27, 2013 at 1:19 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. max

    Lets talk about two black kids that killed some for fun. Three black kids that beat a 13 year little kid so bad he had broke rips arm and the coward bus driver did nothing. Two black guys that rob a white woman and shot her baby in the faces and killed him. Know lets talk about zimmerman buying a gun after he was attacked and beat so bad he had to pull a gun to save his life. But he the hater the bad guy.

    August 23, 2013 at 3:50 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Diana

    I voted for Obama in 2008. I didn't vote for him in 2012. The reason is that he is a TERRIBLE president. I am white, but I have never seen black people in any way inferior. Frankly, I have never been a racist and am really tired of being called one. Mr. Daniels believes that people dislike Obama because he is black. He wouldn't have been elected in the first place if that were true. The fact that people don't like him now has nothing to do with race, and everything to do with performance. There is no way to explain that to a black person like Mr. Daniels. No matter the reason, they will ALWAYS presume it's racial. There is no way to win that argument.

    August 25, 2013 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Chris F

    History lesson 101 guys. Slavery started with one black selling another black to a white. We just did what any other good business man would do we cut out the middle man so you can thank your ancestors for slavery not whites. Ignorance is bliss. So to all the blacks out there that think everyone owes them something we dont your ancestors owe you something for inslaving your other ancestors its a tragedy but the truth and if you dont believe this research it for yourself. And furthermore Trayvon Martin was shot by a Hispanis not white. Lets stop playing the blame game and throwing out the race card. The only way rascism will stop is people stop feeling sorry for themselves and stop talking about race and making it a issue so if you want to know how to stop racsism blacks I will help you out stop talking about it and thinking everyone is always after you.

    October 8, 2013 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Chris F

    Oh and one more thing Obama is not black. He is half white and half black so to say he is a black president is completly untrue he is just as much a white president as black. This is to all the idiots that voted for him because hes black hey genious hes not lol

    October 8, 2013 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Virtual Private Servers

    White House butler Gene Allen, except for the fact that the main character of the film and Allen were both black butlers in the White House.

    April 5, 2017 at 8:16 am | Report abuse | Reply

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