You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

George C. Wolfe Hails ‘Brilliant’ Oprah Winfrey at ‘Henrietta Lacks’ Premiere

At Tuesday premiere of HBO’s “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” Oprah Winfrey’s cast mates could not say enough about the work experience on the movie and the multi-faceted talents of its star and producer.

“Henrietta Lacks” comes as Winfrey has already stepped up her acting work — in addition to running a cable channel, a magazine and sundry other ventures — with a role in OWN’s “Greenleaf” and movies including the upcoming “A Wrinkle in Time” directed by Ava DuVernay.

“Henrietta Lacks” director George C. Wolfe said Winfrey needs to make time for more thespian work. “She needs to do more and more and more and more. She’s brilliant,” Wolfe told Variety before the premiere screening at Manhattan’s SVA Theater.

“Henrietta Lacks” tells the story of an African-American woman who died young and had her cells harvested for years for research that led to astounding breakthroughs in medical science — unbeknownst to her family. To Wolfe, a veteran legit helmer, the story had every ingredient for great drama.

Winfrey plays the titular character’s daughter, Deborah, who discovered her late mother’s storied history and battled the medical establishment to learn the details.

As soon as Wolfe got a hold of the story, based on the nonfiction book of the same name by Rebecca Skloot, he became a director on a mission. “I felt ‘Don’t sleep, don’t eat, just do it now,’ ” Wolfe said. He’d been talking to Winfrey about developing a Broadway show together around the time that Winfrey secured the rights to “Immortal Life.”

In addition to hailing Henrietta Lacks’ influence on modern medicine, the larger message of “Immortal Life” is transmitted via Deborah’s determination. “Don’t give up until you know your story.”

The production of “Immortal Life” was something of a family reunion for Wolfe and many of the actors with deep roots in New York theater. Co-star Reg E. Cathey said Winfrey was an exception but fit right in. “Oprah turned out to be the most generous, the most giving, the most prepared — a serious actress,” he said.

Following the screening, the troupe headed south a few blocks for the after-party at Tao Downtown.

(Pictured: “Henrietta Lacks’ ” John Douglas Thompson, Reg E. Cathey, George C. Wolfe, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Oprah Winfrey, Rebecca Skloot, Rose Byrne and Leslie Uggams)


More TV

  • Naomi Watts

    Naomi Watts to Star in Jason Blum-Produced Quibi Series 'Wolves and Villagers' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Naomi Watts has been cast in the lead role in the upcoming Quibi series “Wolves and Villagers,” Variety has learned exclusively. The exact plot of the short-form series is being kept under wraps, but Quibi co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg has previously described the show as “Fatal Attraction 2.0.” Jason Blum is executive producing the series, with [...]

  • HBO's 'Breslin And Hamill' Documentary Drops

    HBO's 'Breslin And Hamill' Documentary Drops Trailer

    “Revolutionary,” “superstars,” “the voice of true New Yorkers” — that’s how Spike Lee and other influential figures describe journalists Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill in the trailer released for HBO’s “Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists” documentary. The film, which premieres Jan. 28 at 8 p.m. ET/PT, follows the two newspaper columnists whose dedication and wit [...]

  • Riverdale Chapter Twenty-Six

    TV News Roundup: 'Riverdale' Sets 'Heathers' Musical Episode

    In Thursday’s roundup, “Riverdale” is set to tackle “Heathers: The Musical,” and Freeform has announced its second annual summit. DATES  The musical episode of the CW’s “Riverdale,” featuring nine songs, will air Wednesday, March 20 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. On the show, Riverdale High School takes on “Heathers: The Musical,” with queen bees Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch), [...]

  • The Bone Collector

    NBC Orders 'Bone Collector' Drama Pilot 'Lincoln'

    NBC has ordered the drama pilot “Lincoln,” formerly known as “The Bone Collector.” Based on the internationally bestselling book series, “Lincoln” follows legendary forensic criminologist Lincoln Rhyme, who was seriously injured during his hunt for the diabolic serial killer known as the Bone Collector. Called back into action when the killer re-emerges, Lincoln forms a [...]

  • Netflix - Apple TV

    Netflix Turns in Record Q4 Subscriber Gains, Price Increase Weighs on U.S. Forecast

    Netflix is beating Wall Street expectations for international subscriber growth — but its recently announced price increase in the U.S. may have put a damper on its momentum in the States. For the fourth quarter of 2018, Netflix reported 1.53 million paid net adds in the U.S. and 7.31 million internationally, to end the year [...]

  • vudu-free-movies-tv-shows

    Walmart Brushes Off Reports of Streaming Development Halt

    Walmart isn’t ruling out options for a potential streaming video service, a company spokesperson says. Responding to a CNBC report that the mega-retailer had decided not to launch its own streaming entertainment service after all, Walmart would not confirm that there was any halt in development of such a platform, and did not have anything definitive [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content