Oprah Didn’t Get a Role Because She Was Too Famous: ‘It Wasn’t Long Enough to Lose the ‘Oprah Factor”

Just being a massive celebrity like Oprah doesn’t mean everything when it comes to landing roles. While the talk-show host and actor may have scored many opportunities throughout her career, she once lost one — because she was too famous.

Oprah lost out to Viola Davis for ‘Doubt’

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Producer Oprah Winfrey at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, California on December 4th, 2007. | Munawar Hosain/Internation/Getty Images

Oprah is one of the most influential women in the world. She is also very easily recognizable, something which worked against her when it came down to a role she was eyeing. Oprah wanted to play Mrs. Miller, one of the main cast members in the 2008 film, Doubt.

Paparazzi caught up with the star in 2018 and congratulated her for landing the part in A Wrinkle in Time. When asked if she ever had to audition for roles (director Ava Duvernay offered her the role of Mrs. Which), the star surprised everyone by saying “yes.”

The role she most regretted losing out on? “I wanted to be in Doubt,” Oprah revealed in a YouTube clip. “It’s fantastic since Viola [Davis] got it. But the director told me ‘no’ because it wasn’t long enough [of a scene] to lose the Oprah factor.”

Oprah told this story to Meryl Streep, who starred in the movie as Sister Aloysius, stating that director John Patrick Shanley rejected her for the role. The mogul said she asked to audition because she felt a connection to the film — and because she wanted to work with Streep.

Viola Davis got an Oscar nomination for her role in ‘Doubt’

The 2008 film Doubt focuses on the leadership at a Catholic elementary school in the 1960s. Streep’s character, the principal, takes note of Father Brendan Flynn (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman), and his focus on the school’s only Black student. Amy Adams also stars, as a young teacher, Sister James. The movie was a critical and commercial success.

Viola Davis played Donald’s mother, Mrs. Miller. She only had 11 minutes of screen time, but that was enough to get her an Oscar nomination. She and Adams were both nominated for the Best Supporting Actress award at the 81st Academy Awards.

Others up for the role were Taraji P. Henson, who was nominated for her role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Penelope Cruz for her role in Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Marisa Tomei for her part in The Wrestler. Interestingly, Henson was also in the running for Davis’s part in Doubt. Another fun fact? The award that year went to Cruz for another very brief (less than 15 minutes) performance, reveals Gold Derby.

Oprah is a multifaceted star

How does someone become too famous for a cameo? Oprah began her ascent in 1984 when she started her career as a Chicago broadcaster. From 1986 to 2011, she hosted The Oprah Winfrey Show, leading to her own media empire. Meanwhile, she made her acting debut in 1985 in The Color Purple, earning her her own Oscar nomination.

Since then, the star has appeared in A Wrinkle in Time, The Butler, and lent her voice to The Bee Movie and Charlotte’s Web. She has built her business empire, including a production company, networks, TV shows, a magazine, and numerous self-help groups. Oprah became the first Black billionaire in 2004. Though the exact figure is unknown, she allegedly has a net worth of between $2 and $4 billion.

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