Oprah: 'The Butler' Shows Where America Has to Go


ET gained exclusive access to O Magazine's special advance screening of Lee Daniels' The Butler, being the only news outlet with Oprah following her comments about the N-word and racism in America.

The epic period film charts the life and observations of Cecil Gaines, a butler (played by Forest Whitaker) serving under eight American Presidents over the course of three decades. Nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for 1985's The Color Purple, Oprah takes on the role of Gloria Gaines, the wife of the title character.

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"I think it's an important film for America," said Oprah. "I think it's a love story for African-American families, and I think that the history lesson ... for our country is look at where we've come and look at where we have to go."

Lady O recently gave a candid interview to Parade, where she stated, "You cannot be my friend and use [the N-word] around me. It shows my age, but I feel strongly about it. I always think of the millions of people who heard that as their last word as they were hanging from a tree."

Although The Butler does employ the racial slur, Oprah assured ET that it was judiciously used.

"The one time the N-word is used Clarence Williams III slaps him for saying it and says, 'Don't use that word,' because the word is filled with so much hate," Oprah said.

Lee Daniels' The Butler (also starring Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan, Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan, John Cusack as Richard Nixon, Robin Williams as Dwight Eisenhower, James Marsden as JFK, Minka Kelly as Jackie Kennedy and Liev Shreiber as Lyndon Johnson) opens August 16.