Lenny Kravitz on his first acting role

Lenny Kravitz at BIFF 2009
Photo by Dwayne Delancy

Lenny Kravitz is singer, songwriter, and producer and most recently actor is his first acting role as a male nurse in the movie Precious.

“Precious” is the winner of three awards at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. ‘Set in Harlem in 1987, it is the story of Claireece “Precious” Jones (Gabourey Sidibe), a sixteen-year-old African-American girl born into a life no one would want. She begins a journey that will lead her from darkness, pain and powerlessness to light, love and self-determination’. Precious was shown at Bahamas International Film Festival (BIFF) as the closing night film and Lenny was present to talk about his role in the movie and about the film.

Before the movie was shown Lenny had a few words to say,” You are in for an amazing evening. This film is something extra-ordinary, and just get ready because you are going to feel it.’ He applauds the efforts of the screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher. This man standing behind me, Geoffrey Fletcher is the brain man that wrote the screenplay.

Lenny talks about why he choose to do the film Precious

Lenny says that over the years he was presented with many films and turned them all down because they did not appeal to him or his sense of creativity.

“It’s all about a name, they don’t really care if you are talented or not, unfortunately that’s the way a lot of things work in Hollywood; its about a name and hype and money. I was presented with many films over the past 20 years and I turned everything down because I did not feel as if it meant something to me, and creatively, if it was the right thing to do, and I wasn’t going to make films just to make money, or to become a ‘movie star’. So I just said, if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. But this happened and you know, God knows the plans, and here I am and it’s a new beginning for me. I’m still making music, but now I’m starting to do films. I’m appreciative, it’s a blessing”.

He compares an album release to the making of a feature film

When asked if there were comparisons to when an album comes out and it gets a lot of juice, is there a different feeling when a film comes out?

“The thing about music albums and touring is that I’m so in it and there is a buzz. For an album if something is successful, I’m in the streets, I’m on tour, I’m doing a concert every night, and there are people in front of me. I can feel what’s going on.

I kind of did this film and it went away. You know I went back to Europe, I went on tour, I’m here now in the Bahamas working on my next album, so I hear about what’s going on and I get phone calls about how well it’s doing, and the golden globe nominations and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) nominations and its all amazing but it’s something that is sort of in another world for me.”

Lenny on what he thinks people will walk away from after seeing the film:

Obviously, it’s all about hope, but the first thing that I always think about, and the thing that I mention to people is look at how blessed your life is. You know, what do we really have to complain about? That’s how I see it.

Geoffrey Fletcher wrote the screenplay for the movie and was on hand to speak on closing night at Bahamas International Film Festival.

“It such an honour to be here on closing night, which is an honour in itself, but a very special one because it is at such a prestigious festival. I just found out that I could come last night and I was so excited that I forgot my passport, so I just got here if you are wondering why I’m dressed so warmly, it was 30 degrees in New York just a few hours ago. My life was very different a year ago, and I’m still trying to make sense of it all. I get to work with people I’ve admired for many years, right here is one of them (pointing to Lenny Kravitz), and just when I was starting to make sense of it all, I find myself here still trying to make sense of it all.

Lenny Kravitz
Photo by Dwayne Delancy

Geoffrey on the film

‘Some people say that the book is more graphic and this and that, there is some physical violence that is here, but the great thing about cinema is that you can show people a little glimpse, another glimpse, and remind them to connect the dots and participate. So like the old horror films that were so scary, where you just imagined what was happening, in your mind, you could scare yourself more than any filmmaker can. But there are a lot of things that we do see as well.”

About the brief fantasy scene in the movie when Precious looks in the mirror and sees a white girl ..

Geoffrey replied that it came up for three reasons:

1.     Precious’ escape

2.     In case the audience needed a little escape

3.     The visual cinematic element to it.

The girl, I remember getting to that part, it just sort of popped out, and I think that throughout the writing I was sort of caught under a spell.

About a possible Oscar Nomination

“Honestly people ask me that, and the truth of the matter is that I’m still amazed that the film got made. And I don’t mean to insult other films or anything, but there are no transformers in this movie… it’s a really hard, cold reality and people want to see it.

But if you think about a film and elements that you think may be commercial in a film, this covers a checklist of elements that you typically don’t go to the movies to see I imagine. So I’m just thrilled.

Geoffrey says that many things had to have happen for the film to be made.

 “In all the elements there are so many weird things that had to happen for this to happen. For instance, the Magnesses, Sarah Siegel-Magness and Gary Magness, they funded the film. So can you imagine? They wrote a huge check for a movie with this subject matter, and thought maybe they would get their money back, I don’t even know if they thought they would get their money back, I don’t know. But it’s remarkable and there are so many different steps along the way… so there was a lot of chaos  and sometimes good things come out of chaos.”

Erica Meus-Saunders (editor, Nu Woman) talks with Geoffrey Fletcher, Oscar winner for Best Adapted Screenplay (Precious), at Bahamas International Film Festival’s closing night.
Photo by Dwayne Delancy


Directed by: Lee Daniels

Written by : Geoffrey Fletcher and Sapphire (Adapted Material)

Produced by: Lee Daniels, Gary Magness, Sarah Siegel-Magness, Tom Heller, Lisa Cortes, Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey

Principal cast: Mo’Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, Sherri Shepherd, Lenny Kravitz and introducing Gabourey Sidibe.

This article was published in Nu Woman’s Spring 2010 issue. All rights reserved.