Lee Daniels' life could be its own movie. In a new interview with Out magazine, the 53-year-old director recalls painful memories of his childhood, drug abuse and why he decided to come out as gay.
"When I came out it was because I loathed my dad so much — I couldn't understand how you could, with an extension cord, beat a 45-pound kid just because he's aware of his femininity," he said. The Precious director told the magazine his father, William, dumped him into a trash can after he caught him wearing his mother's red high heels.
"For me it really created a world where I understood Precious, where you learn the power of the imagination," he said of his relationship with his father, who died while on duty as a police officer when he was 15. "And that's how it began for me."
After his dad's death, however, Daniels' life didn't get much easier. The Butler director watched loved ones die of AIDS, struggled with a crystal meth addiction, and adopted his niece Clara and nephew Liam after his brother was sent to jail. Daniels recalled of his conversation with his brother: "He called and said, 'I'm going to be there for a long time; I got this girl pregnant, she doesn't want the kids, and I have a feeling she's going to abandon them.'"
Daniels' transition into Hollywood also wasn't easy. Monster's Ball, his debut production from Lee Daniels Entertainment, won Halle Berry the Best Actress Oscar in 2002, but Daniels couldn't enjoy her victory. "It's always when things are really good for me that I feel I'm not worthy of it," he explained to Out. "When Halle won her Oscar, I remember her calling, saying, 'Are you going to the Vanity Fair party?' and I'm strung out in the Chateau Marmont, methed out of my mind, thinking I didn't deserve it."
Regarding his frank "methed out my mind" remark, Daniels told Out that he likes to be very honest about his faults. "I have to be really aware of it, and always talking about it — and be truthful about it to the point of ugliness so that it keeps my ass in check."
But the Paperboy director, who lives in New York City, prefers to keep some distance between himself and Hollywood. "In L.A. they make you feel insecure, like you're always looking at the stars and you feel like you're not one of them," he said. "You feel like, 'I'm nothing.' It was what my father told me I was, and I knew I had to get out of there."
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