EXCLUSIVE: André Leon Talley Explains Why He Turned Down That Cameo in Precious
At the Savannah Film Festival Monday, larger-than-life Vogue editor-at-large André Leon Talley was on hand -- wearing an enormous Ralph Rucci-designed kimono whose color Talley described as "aubergine" -- to join a discussion of Valentino: The Last Emperor with the acclaimed doc's director, Matt Tyrnauer. Talley is quite a friend of Savannah College of Art and Design, which hosts the festival and more or less is the biggest business in this charming but sleepy town. "You can get a bachelor's of art degree in luxury management!" Talley raved about SCAD. "You can go work at Vuitton, Cartier, a chocolatier, a spa, a restaurant. It means you can handle luxury concerns."
A more pressing concern to Movieline, however, was a cryptic assertion in the New York Times Magazine that Talley declined a small role in this week's Precious after seeing a clip of star Gabourey Sidibe. Care to elaborate, Mr. Talley?
"I regret that I turned the role down," he said, "because Lee [Daniels, the director] is a great friend of mine. I think Precious is one of the greatest films that I've ever seen. [...] That day I was probably not thinking straight."
The Times piece seemed to imply that he turned it down out of distaste after seeing how the plus-size Sidibe appeared in the film. "That is not true at all," Talley insisted. "I made my decision a day after I'd seen the tape of Gabby."
So did the Times Magazine -- specifically, the Times Magazine's marquee film reporter, Lynn Hirschberg -- misrepresent or misreport his reasons? "Totally," Talley replied. "I adore Gabby. Why would I turn it down because I saw a picture of Gabby? One year, I had two choices: Go onstage with Martha Graham or go to Yale and give a seminar. I chose Martha Graham over Yale. You have to make choices in life."
Fair enough, but does he feel Sidibe should lose weight? "I do not address her own issues," he said. "I have my own issues with weight, and I think that people like Gabourey and Jennifer Hudson, people look at them for their talents. People have to get over the fact that everyone's not thin like a No. 2 pencil."
Would he like to dress Sidibe as he'd dressed Hudson? "I don't have time to dress anyone but myself these days," he said. "That's another decision I made. Lee Daniels is going to take care of her."
[Photo: Randy Brooke/WireImage.com]