Seen it a hundred times...
Aaron Stipkovich: So you've known about "Dreamgirls" for a long time?
Beyonce Knowles: Since I was 15. Everybody's been telling me about this forever. He has a cult following, you know, and he's one of those fanatical, seen-it-a-hundred-times...and I wouldn't know what a bevel is, I wouldn't know what a diva is, I wouldn't know half of the things I know if it wasn't for "Dreamgirls" because he wouldn't have known it, and he wouldn't have taught me. So when I heard they were doing this movie, I said I have to be a part of it. I don't care what I do, if I'm a stepsister, I have to be a part of this. If I'm in it for five minutes--because I knew it would important, it would be history, and it'll be relevant and quality and classic.
AM: Why is it important to do the film?
BK: Well, I mean I'm from a singing group, and it wasn't for groups like The Supremes, Aretha Franklin, all of the artists that have crossed over, I wouldn't be able to have international tours. I wouldn't be able to be on the radio in Germany. I wouldn't be able to...I mean, so many things. And this tells that story. And it's also important that people know the downsides of fame. They think that you have the glittery dresses and the eyelashes, and everything's happy. But you know, there's a price of fame, and there's something very sad about it, and this kind of reveals that.
AM: Is that something you related to first-hand in your own career?
BK: Not really, because I'm not like most celebrities that I meet. I am very happy, and it's because I'm an exception because my family is with me, and I have honesty around me, and most people don't have that. But I wanted to be a part of it, and I invited Bill Condon to see my rehearsals with Destiny's Child, and I think I scared him because I'm more like Tina Turner on the stage, and my vocal performance and my dancing and everything is nothing like Deena. So he was like, "Whoa, okay, you're gonna have to do a screen test." [laughs] And he didn't know if people had such an idea of me, that it would be believable for me to be young Deena, when she's really playing...I mean, I would've loved to play Effie, but you know. I knew if he didn't believe me as Deena [laughs], then there was no way! And I knew that Deena, in the script, was not the biggest part, but I didn't care, I was happy to be a part of it. I did my screen test, I found the ugliest dress I could find, I went and found the ugliest wig I could find, I put these big eyebrows on me, and I did it, and they found their Deena, and I immediately blocked off six months of my schedule, which I've never done. When I do albums, they take, at the most, two months. Everything I do is very fast--every movie I've done is two months, so it was-it sounds crazy, but I've never done that before. And I did it for a fourth of the money I usually make, and I could make it in one show that I made. I didn't care, it wasn't about that. And I didn't allow myself to perform or do anything outside of "Dreamgirls". I only listened to '60s music, I had a shrine of Diana Ross in my trailer, and I lost 20 pounds (and I love to eat, so that was really hard). I did whatever I could think of to do the best job I could, and I worked with Ivana, my acting coach, every day--even on the weekends--and I wanted to make sure that I showed that I could act, and finally I was given a part that was different for me and that had range, and that started out one way and grew and butterflied into another character, and I thought it was so exciting.
AM: How happy are you with what's up there on-screen?
BK: I'm extremely happy. I'm very happy. I actually sat in the theater and did not see myself at all.
AM: Did you see the applause at the end of your number? Did that surprise you? Did you see it?
BK: No, I didn't see that. I didn't see it in a big audience. I mean really, that's great, but I know that 'And I'm Telling You' is incredible, and nothing can even compare to that. I could only imagine the pressure Jennifer [Hudson] had, because she's never done a movie, she's never done an album, and now she's doing this huge movie with the song that, even before her, was the song that got the applause, so she had to live up to that, which is a lot of pressure. And when I told people I was doing the movie, they all asked me, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, you're playing Deena. Who is Effie and is she singing 'And I'm Telling You'"? [laughs] And I'm like, "Wow, this poor girl has all this pressure!" But she handled it, and she's incredible and she's gifted, so...
AM: You're usually the center of attention. How was it to take a step back? What was it like?
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter, born September 4, 1981, is an American singer, songwriter, record producer and actress. Knowles rose to fame in the late 1990s as the lead singer of the R&B girl group Destiny's Child, one of the world's best-selling girl groups of all time. | Photo: Getty |
BK: I didn't do the movie to become a bigger star. I mean, I'm already a big star, and the thought of being bigger is actually scary. [laughs] So I knew that, and I don't have a problem with that. I mean, I knew that I was gonna have to hold back vocally. I knew that in the beginning, when everyone else has their make-up and hair, I still have to be the oddball with the eyebrows, but that is a part of being an actor, and that's part of the character, and I'm very comfortable with that because I don't really have anything to prove at this point. As far as being a star and being a singer, I already have nine Grammys--I'm already a big star, so this was really about the acting for me.
AM: This film was under the microscope from the beginning.
BK: That was a little weird. You know, even when we were filming, the press came to see one of the numbers. Very weird. I mean, I never experienced that, but it's all great because we have a great buzz, and there is a reason for it [laughs].
AM: Is there anything you could use from being in Destiny's Child, either being in the group or rehearsing?
BK: Definitely the relationship with the other ladies in the beginning of the film. Because I had been working and going over my inner dialogue and substitution and all that before I met the ladies, I already met the ladies [laughs]. I mean, I already had in my mind who they were, and when I met them, you swore I felt like I'd been knowing them forever because I'd been rehearsing it. And it probably freaked them out a little bit. But so there, yes. But it stops there because Deena's apart from me, because she grew up in the projects and she didn't have a father, and she wasn't a strong singer. It's different from me, who did have both of my parents, who is in control of my life, and seemingly because of my voice. So I didn't want to reenact the things that happened to me, because when I lost on "Star Search" I was sad, but I still had a nice house, I still was in private school--as opposed to Deena who had to go back, squeeze back in the bed in her one little bedroom, and holding her mother...so the passion and everything was different.
AM: How important is a movie career to you?
BK: I'm the type of person that when I start something, I've gotta finish it. And I already started it--I've already done four movies, so I have to win an Oscar [laughs]. It's very important to me.
AM: Will you continue to pursue the movies, maybe push the music aside a bit?
BK: I don't know. I'm still young, I love music, I love doing musicals. I wish Barbra Streisand would've done more. I wish Diana Ross would've done more movies. So I want to do more. I want to do grayer movies. I want to play different parts that don't have singing, but I'm open to whatever inspires me, and the thing I learned most is when I look at a script, if I don't have the passion that I had about this, I'm not wasting my time.
AM: Is it hard to look ahead a year and say, "Do I have time to fit in a movie?"
BK: Yeah, that is difficult because my schedule, until this time next year, is booked. So I know I can't do another movie for another year. But if, for instance, somebody says they're making something that I would love, then I'm gonna cancel a tour and do it. I mean, I had plans for six months before that--I had to tell them no because this was a bigger priority for me. I'm not in a rush because I want to do this for a long time...
AM: Even if you lose all the money from tours?
BK: Yeah, I canceled to do this and lost a lot of money. I did this movie for not a lot--for a fourth of what I normally make--and I didn't care because I have money, so I'm not doing this for that reason.
AM: Have you met Diana Ross or talked to her?
BK: Yes, I have. I met her a couple...maybe three times, and I met her recently when I was filming the movie, and she was very nice and told me if I needed anything, she was there, which was really great for me because I respect her, and I was happy to hear that she wasn't upset.
AM: Have you run across any Effie's in your career? People just pushed aside--lost for a while?
BK: Yeah, I mean, you see them all the time. I mean, there are a lot of artists that I love that I'll ask, "Do you know who [?] is?", and they're like, "Who is that?", you know? Of course, that's just life. It's unfortunate, but it's true. When someone is only beautiful, they're not gonna have a long career. It has to be something else for you to have a long career. And I believe that you can only fake it for so long--eventually people are gonna move on to the next beautiful thing. And you know, that's why I've always concentrated and focused on vocals and my performance, more than that, because that's only temporary.
AM: Did you keep any of the wigs? The costumes were amazing.
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter, born September 4, 1981, is an American singer, songwriter, record producer and actress. Knowles rose to fame in the late 1990s as the lead singer of the R&B girl group Destiny's Child, one of the world's best-selling girl groups of all time. | Beyonce, Singer, Actress, Entrepreneur, Destinys Child,
BK: Yeah. Every time I say I'm gonna put it in my contract to keep at least two of something, two of my outfits, I never do it.
AM: Are you honestly a Mets fan?
BK: I do like the Mets! They keep putting pictures of me looking bored, and I don't appreciate that. They're like, "She's getting dragged," and they catch me blinking and they put it in there.