Lenny Kravitz And Cuba Gooding Jr. Talk Working With A Parrot For ‘The Butler’ And Civil Rights

Consider Cuba Gooding Jr. and Lenny Kravitz prime examples of balancing acts. Cuba, who has nabbed Oscars and Academy Awards for screen-grabbing roles in classic flicks such as Jerry Maguire and Men Of Honor, can make any character worthy of a standing ovation, while Lenny juggles his rock star appeal with a diverse reel in films such as Precious and The Hunger Games.

Now, the New York natives come together in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, a family drama loosely based on the story of White House butler Eugene Allen who served eight Presidents in the midst of the civil rights movement. Despite donning the white garments of the house staff, Cuba and Lenny also serve up a few good laughs throughout the film, though they admit they didn’t pick up any actual culinary skills.

“They tried to teach us how to make pastry but that didn’t go very well,” Lenny tells VIBE, referencing a part in the movie where he, Cuba and leading man Forest Whitaker play with dough in the kitchen.

But it was one unlikely star who made his presence known during a scene both actors agreed was the most fun to film: a parrot. “That might’ve been the funnest because the music was going and the parrot was yapping,” Cuba said.

“Lee got the parrot and I think he just wanted the parrot to be scenery,” Lenny adds. “I don’t think he realized that the parrot was going to start talking as much as he did so the parrot became a part of the dialogue.”

Daniels’ latest cinematic contribution also sparks a necessary conversation about America’s history, in line with recent releases like Django Unchained, 42 and Fruitvale Station, that Cuba feels is lost on the younger generation.

“It’s funny there is a certain disconnect between young people today and what went down during the Civil Rights Movement and all the players, not just the Martin Luther King’s and the JFK’s, but the Abernathy’s and just everybody that fought and died during the Freedom Ride not just black Americans but white Americans,” he says. “There was a nice juxtaposition of methods and how to deal with the Black male and his expression raging against this whole idea of racism … This is an epic tale done masterly well and at the same time a beautiful story about family and love.”

Watch the full interview above and check out Lee Daniels’ The Butler when it hits theatres August 16.—Adelle Platon (@adelleplaton)

Video Edited By: Brandon Burnett