Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, and Emma Stone headline this hit drama, on Blu-ray and DVD Tuesday, December 6th.
On Tuesday, December 6th, the surprise smash hit of the summer The Help finally arrives on Blu-ray, Blu-ray Combo Pack, and DVD. Headlined by Oscar-worthy performances from Octavia Spencer, Emma Stone, Allison Janney, and Viola Davis, Tate Taylor directs this adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's best selling novel, which follows the timeless and triumphant tale of two women in the 1960s south who form a strong bond over a secret writing project.
We recently caught up with director Tate Taylor to chat about this anticipated release. Here is our conversation.
You've been with this project for such a long time. How does it feel to finally have the movie on Blu-ray and DVD, where everyone can access it?
Tate Taylor: I am so excited. I think I'll go out by myself and stand in line at Best Buy to buy it. It feels great. I realize that it will now reach so many people that couldn't get to a theater. I have relatives in my own family who couldn't get out to see it. I am so glad this is coming into people's homes. I am happy to expand our fanbase, hopefully.
In places where this story might resonate the heaviest, a lot of those people simply can't get to the movie theater because they live so far away from one...
Tate Taylor: Its true. Where we filmed the movie in Greenwood Mississippi, the nearest theater is two hours away. So I am excited for this.
I know the film courted a lot of controversy when it was in theaters. How important was it to include the documentary In Their Own Words: A Tribute to the Maids of Mississippi on the bonus section of this release?
Tate Taylor: It was very important to me to have this. And I don't want to call it a tribute or a thank you. We just knew that couldn't come from a white author, or a white filmmaker, or a studio. The people owed this thanks were the children of these woman. That's why I wanted to bring in that discussion. It was so amazing. About a month ago Oprah Winfrey got a charity Oscar, a governors award, from the Academy. And I was there. In the middle of her speech, she said, "The Help. Because of those women, I get to stand here. Because of what they did. So that we could have a better life." That is what I wanted to bring to the DVD. It's not about white people saying 'thank you'. It's about their children. Because they are the ones that benefited. What their mothers and grandmothers did for them. In talking about the bonus features, I don't want to watch the movie, I just don't. I want to talk about the locations, and the heart, and why I knew these people. That these aren't just characters. I want to get all of these beautiful women in a room and have a discussion. Make it for everybody. See how it feels.
You bring in a couple of deleted scenes. What do you feel these add to the experience of watching the movie? Were these scenes that you were happy to share with an audience who may have already seen The Help in a theater?
Tate Taylor: I am happy for everybody to see the deleted scenes. It literally came down to the fact that you have so much information in a book, and an audience only has so much good will towards a movie, as far as how long their butts want to sit in that seat. We had a lot of stuff, and I needed to see what subjects we already covered. I'm thrilled to show audiences these deleted scenes, especially the book lovers. Because, I know when I love I book, I always think, "I wish they would have filmed that particular scene..." You know what? They may have! I love that these deleted scenes are being shown. Absolutely.
I am just fascinated by the backstory on the making of this movie. You and the author, Kathryn Stockett, have known each other for a long time, right?
Tate Taylor: Since we were five years old. We grew up together in Jackson, Mississippi. We do tell the entire genesis of how this all happened, on the DVD, absolutely. From us being friends at the age of five, until the movie was in theaters. That is all covered in the extras. She is interviewed. It's pretty cool.
Kathryn was there through the entire making of the movie, but she never really collaborated with you on the script, right?
Tate Taylor: She is famously not a movie fan. Its hysterical. She loves to read books, period. Whenever I would talk about movies, or reference movies, she'd say, "I don't know what you are talking about." When she made the decision to give me the rights, she said, "Here, take it. I don't understand screenplays. I am here for you if you have a question." She read the screenplay, and she liked it. Then she said, "I wan to come sit with you while you are there." She came, she rented a house, and in the daytime, she wrote her next novel, which she is almost done with. She knew that we were down the road filming her first novel. She wanted to be around that energy. She loved coming to set. She got attached, but still, she is not a fan of the movie business. Its not her forte.
You and Octavia Spencer have been friends for a long time, as well?
Tate Taylor: She was my roommate for four years. We left the same apartment to go down there and film this movie. I lived with Octavia while I was adapting this screenplay. Then we packed up the car and hit the road. Yes, she was my roommate for four years. We met in 1995 as PAs on the movie A Time to Kill. We just became best friends. That's how Kathryn Stockett got to know Octavia. This whole thing is about friendships. And history. It's remarkable. It will be hard to ever recapture this again. There are so many firsts. There was so much love between the crew, and the actors, and themselves...We're all still friends. We all break bread. We all travel together. Its like this has never stopped. It was all so powerful. We all fell in love with each other while we were there.
Did you always know that you wanted Octavia to be in the movie, from the moment you read the manuscript?
Tate Taylor: Octavia has always been in everything that I have ever done. I would film her reading the phone book. I loved the character of Minnie, and I wrote it with her in mind, absolutely. That was always a deal breaker. I never had to push for that, though. From the very beginning, I always knew that I wanted both Allison Janney and Octavia Spencer. They are both friends, and I wrote those parts for them, knowing their skills. But it never came down to fighting for them. That's what's so great about DreamWorks. They took a look at them and said, "Yeah, you are right. These are two great actresses. Lets keep going! This is perfect."
You mentioned that Kathryn is almost finished with her next book. Are you already plotting to adapt that one as well?
Tate Taylor: Of course I want to. As she says, "I hope you like it!" Why wouldn't I like it? Of course I will like it. We will work together forever. She just has to finish the damn thing.
The Help is now available on Blu-ray, Blu-ray Combo Pack, and DVD.
The Help was released August 10th, 2011 and stars Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard, Mike Vogel, Allison Janney, Sissy Spacek, Jessica Chastain, Chris Lowell, Viola Davis. The film is directed by Tate Taylor.