Octavia Spencer: How I Beat Out Oscar Winners for The Help

updated 12/05/2011 at 02:20 PM EST

originally published 12/06/2011 12:30PM



Octavia Spencer is getting Oscar buzz for her performance in The Help, but the actress now reveals that she faced stiff competition from some former Oscar winners for the role as sassy maid Minny Jackson.

Spencer, 41, told Anderson Cooper during an interview on his talk show set to air Tuesday that other actresses considered for the part included Queen Latifah, Mo'Nique and Jennifer Hudson.

"There were a lot of big name people who were out there and being considered for this role. How did you get this role?" Cooper asked.



"I slept with the producer," Spencer joked.

In fact, Spencer's moved to the top of the list because of her (platonic) relationship with director Tate Taylor.

"Tate and I have been friends for about 17 years," she explained.

The two met when they were both working as production assistants ("like the grunts") on a film, according to Spencer.

About eight years ago, it was Taylor who introduced Spencer to his friend Kathryn Stockett, the author of The Help. Some of Spencer's personality and mannerisms eventually ended up on the page to flesh out the book's feisty character.

"It was a crazy setting," Spencer told Anderson of her first meeting with the author. "I don't like to be hot, hungry or uncomfortable, and I was 100 pounds heavier, it was 108 degrees in New Orleans. ... Tate decided that we should take a walking tour, and I was very grumpy, and Minny was born."

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