25 YEARS AGO !
Steven Spielberg's powerful drama scored 11 Oscar nods and made Whoopi and Oprah
Alice Walker's novel-turned-film tackled tough topics like domestic violence and racism in the early-1900s South, but offscreen the cast-eager to let off steam-"was partying their buns off," says Quincy Jones, who composed the music (a Blu-ray version is due Jan. 25). Playing spirited Sofia "was one of the highlights of my life," recalls Oprah Winfrey
, 56, who was asked to audition after Jones spotted her Chicago TV show. New to acting, "I was so unsure of myself," she says. But once the pivotal dinner-table scene wrapped, "Whoopi [Goldberg] said, 'Today you became an actress.'"