Lee Daniels talks 'Empire,' 'Star' and family

Daniels appears on "Popcorn With Peter Travers" to talk about the new season of his hit series "Empire
22:58 | 10/11/17

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Transcript for Lee Daniels talks 'Empire,' 'Star' and family
Let's just. Man it's okay. And in an. This week. Turnarounds. He's been proven whose school. He wears it. He UN head Carl group that duo with that white girl. Brown. Makes arm and communities. And increasing the hook on a couple of looses it's expected this nice until Merriam what you love to police. Her throne. The current. Month she asked. Drugs we fills in the unit but you look. At it when I'm management on his Armenian girl. But you might want to help them out and its treatment and then when producers to cut checks from yeah not the best still that we can't hit anything. Is that I'm sure we can do something important. To me need in this particular. From there are catching column at CDs. Way. Then there's US yeah. Hi everybody I'm Peter Travers and this is popcorn when we tell you what is pop and in the culture and the man that has more pop and in the culture than anyone I know as my guest today. Mr. of the day hi Peter so lucky you. Empires back you star is back yeah I hear that you have like two new shows going with fox yet is it only to. Three. You know thought yes. What's trying and you. A contract not. You don't pay attention it does know I go now. I'm him I guess. Making sure that. No I'm giving because right now. You know with empire was really my voice and Danny's voice and start my voice now really it's about other people's voices and M branding myself so that I am. Able to give voice to those that don't ordinarily have a voice or a face to those it we ordinarily don't see you know so it's it's not a Brandon and and really expanding. In two producing. But I missed directing some government back in images and movies to one you can you tell me anything about them once that you didn't get a pissed that year. You know because he stayed away from movies are wrong. That's to stick to the TV I did not know when we did empire that it was going to be a as and he picked up and then I didn't really know what it meant to get picked. I didn't know the war particularly at that it was like it was the beginnings that Macedonia. As the work really it was about the work. And you really don't directs you know I mean I'm a director by nature you know and so. I'm writer second. And then star happened. But I miss and it's been over how long has it been since the Butler you know so it's time for me it's like over three years is didn't. And apple at and so that means five years because two takes two years and aid. So it's been five years as have been behind the camera and it's time for music. But let's talk about empire first came because it. There's all of you in the X eight and it's not just looses line. I basically the UN cookie but I think you do Jamal Ali but jamaat Keenan yet they're all on day Andrea Pia. But because it's is the new season that started and we can talk a little bit about what happened in the last needs something happens in that in terms of religious lines Terrence Howard play so well. Where he is in an accident and hands and knees. And half the basically. Find out who we. Are a great thing that you lotteries do that. What you just love to have a year of amnesia so that's where would you stop. A year after they hear hear that and find out what it is you really didn't want yet world yet. It's exciting for the actor he's really excited. Because after so many years you know he had cigarette a great story line and print plane he's so. You know he's just. He's. At its next level. Next level so to write to that as the has been challenging. Malia and he's. Well you want to head to rise used to. The from the first season of them from the first time we saw that flash back you know. Skewed this war news is told by his father that being gay is the worst thing in the world and tossed in a garbage. That's done. The. So he can't really walk away from something that you know it all of its me but Peter. All of my work is done so it's it's it's impossible and and that off contends that feel terribly guilty because I can't very well be with. Over there and also with star and now you know now with this new television show I just so. I have to trust and that some great people that I am on the ground that don't get enough credit for what they do you know great writing. Great Senna Emery who does our who really runs the show on the ground with the actors. They don't give them credit they suspect Lee Daniels but you know it's it's not really is it's it's it's a great team like. Think everyone knows that as it to happen but. There people who produce and then people who produce something that the damn yeah assault. Yes it lets you get the credit and you also get the blame when people hear it comes with that you're Malia on you've got to take but it took into. I called certain that he also does it you know they know they know that you people know and sometimes I take my the ball. They know that MI is not on the ball they know and and fans speak out like for example they know that. For empire they know that. With fans of say it loud and clear is that they don't receive much celebrities on lane and guest stars on the show. They want to know about the family. So this season were really delving into the family. That's what they want to know. What is this Lee Daniels magic dust that you seem to be able to get whoever you want you to do what you want I want to know what that. They should be a book the dance ten way to have at all. I mean this. Case they remain honest and and humble. You know it and and un Hollywood is the word just on Hollywood is just. It's solid and humility very humbled to be working with Queen Latifah on. Starr Queen Latifah and Benjamin Bratt are indigenous amazing or should they really yeah yeah yeah it's crazy. Three girls that are unknown Snooki. To discover that with those two lesbians Newton it's great it's great and then we telling provocative stories. We're going even further into you know into telling stories about transgender. And what what that world is about not. What people think that is you know. Bruce Jenner you do. Not that. Not. Laverne Cox is very educated but that but but what that. What 90%. Of transgender is. Would where they come from. The streets net income from. We're exploring you know we're exploring that we're exploring a very dark side and a dark side but the real life. Of what to engenders. What what most jet engines go through so it's. I get I get emotional talking about it because it's very you know what I really really like you may view is that you do get him. That's enough now I mean academic art of that so my face so it was a platinum corporate base that output effect it's just there. You know but. That comes out in the work. It is that where businesses which strictly business I don't think you do it through very now I think he'd get Portis and say what am I do think I'm making money. Getting out because if you were and you heard him Piaf saying you know what is this but with the transgender character you hired transgender. Actor. It done and there's until we hear protesting about people why don't you hire somebody who actually is to play. Is that hard is it difficult even for you to take a stand and say this is how it's going to be done. Now do it. You do it unabashedly done that before I just had to fight for ever look at your precious promotes is violent has been -- huge fight. To get anything because no one everyone's. Was under estimating the intelligence what Americans want to see. Before that when he had the agency with the nurses yet that always amazes me the whole thing on the hill. Did I had ever happened I'd never asked to tell you how what you're dealing with the earth why was directing theater. Course you. In at church. And I was working as a receptionist in a nursing agency. When passed when and then I ended up. A man own agencies stealing their nurses opening of this agency and then simultaneously. Oh and then a producer came in. It's that we want to do what he really when do. Producer that was to give his mother. So there and I he's witty won Wednesday's hearing you're so young doing this Hamas I mean entertaining and so what can entertain. And. Here but I don't know. Easing and that's now what do movies it will come BP A so I so he was working purple rain. And I've and I drove and I became a PA and the restless and history even going back to monster's ball which he didn't direct but which you're the producer. There had to be people saying who wants to see this Aaliyah yet I don't rush hour. And then it comes out everything in it is working Billy Bob Allen Berry wins the Oscar becomes the first. African American to win best actress in like a 100000 years that the actor is been doing that. When that happens what changes. Prius because that team to me that it must be that war. I think that. After that. I was offered. They just label you as a black producer and an African American produces I was up who's my baby's mama. Africa answer or seven all I want like let's run on his right. Apps it. What is. It and it's. I don't cogs from. From hair specifically. To another into another place. With that movie of the woods and and it was so easy Kevin Bacon playing it at a yes. In week three basically CTDs. Point of view and see him as a human being I was so archer. Everybody coming after you fill it until it was crazy yes they. And apple went one K and he did that we wasn't really Goodwin Jeffrey was great it. It was great so and I gave a woman it was important for me give a woman. Job as a director I was so I'll for many reasons and so you know. For me it's about. It really is about I carry a legacy of diversity. And making sure that not only is an am I telling provocative stories that from making people think but that I'm an uplifting. People of color and people and women and people I don't have a chance. Because I've been told though saw who actually running for president that she needs somebody. And all right there are. Record I think Everett ever like. Tickets so you know enemy traffic tickets youth you know that's you can't really yet for twice he what did you opportunities at like 2000000 traffic tickets. Overlooked when that becomes not a misdemeanor better Fallon I don't know is it personally I don't know I think is the age Obama does it stay there I thought you. I well I did it yeah. Stay there I didn't do that you're gonna say something like rugs and none of one are you kidding me limits phase and they. I had. I was. Corrupt dealers so you know I know drug dealers and so I I was it's too terrified to sell packaged ice to. And is okay values but wouldn't OK I do you thing. But I don't I know edit. You know I would never I would you know I tried to stay on the legal side benefits. I do think it means that offense but it's him at sea we'll be the last time I talk to you. We were talking about you when you. You said to me at the time. I'm amazed I'm a lie. Yes how did that change. How did you did you get scared into changing. It's now woke it was time for me to really be clear. And and to really be present and and I wasn't you know was and that's the size. I would and that's the size myself from the pain that I was. And and I really couldn't enjoy the accolades that people were like I couldn't injure the love that I was receiving because I didn't love myself. You know and and didn't believe I deserve. I really didn't believe it you know. The you know you win an Oscar for somebody and they tell you grade or whatever you do you really don't believe these you know. You don't believe in yourself. Not feeling as you're talented you I mean clearly are ya know that I got some sound really believe it I think it's fake temple and I want to know where that comes from because it because you were here last night I think that it's important to up with your children. So important to really. Even when you and a. Straight of them you know talent you can do anything. And I think when you have that probably. That's probably Hattiesburg ideals you know because I've. I had a lip that's oh there's this that the entitlement that they can do any. It. I that. Right there's is this you know union Yang would do you know we should say that you did adopt the two children of your brother. Right did so they last time we spoke they were still relatively well in Allen's money line. They're twins there there in ones in in in college spending all my money in Paris. Every nickel I have you would again. I really had it done I get into that what you can't do not expect it. I'm so happy she's you know she's gonna take over Hollywood forget that she they both grown up. On sets in theater you know that's what their life experiences you know and so very. Are me on steroids. And my son is. Mob laying in. You know it. Modeling contracts in and in New York City living his life X. It's they're beautiful they're fantastic. And the idea they're not gonna give you do many yes daddy's. What they keep your check if they keep me check and you know what they keep me current regarding my worked eight. They look forward to seeing that much that my my my material is that they looked fourteen. I'm not worried about critics there's no critic get a bird and oak critics of credit checking give me worse beat back then my children. If I can pass their eyes on. And oh because they look forward to drag him through them. At. Eight. They just have sort of live in critic yes yet they're all there right we want you to and there are sophisticated enough and savvy enough to know great work. So I really I get nervous Jones them. I really do it big if they grabbed their phones. Its program notes that you know keep their attention at all times. And you're in love. But he and the great thing isn't great yet yet. That this is a younger man you. That you keep yeah. And you keep up yet you know decade. I can't the man. You got it and yes happy and you had something green mean greed is as it was Allen there. I don't take about eight our industry I was. Yeah. There. The leader talking about if I have is doing it I. Haven't we generate decent conversation. You. You talked about this with. So why can't it be me. I just like I. Now you're never of that. I just I have a parent out. I wish I can't believe you have to say yeah we're at my camera. And I'll show you that. Somewhere to the I'm has apparently it's really not less time. I am lies it's great I am I it's he's much younger than me. He's much I didn't say much I just to younger yes oh he is let you read it much yet remains at thirty. I mean 58 would is that as Olivia blanket and. Was he just as honest in his critiques of your work brutal Rick. What you cattlemen rude brutal and that's when that's going you know you dip technique it's got. They're going to be brutal they're gonna be a nightmare is everybody at work that way with you people that work yes and around my area bars and yet there are no they're all being. People think that abdic is Tyrus I I think you used our moment and that power comes from being able to accept criticism. And being able to say working with a group of very powerful people. That are enormously talented that say this is this is what's wrong opinions. That are that day that make. Make for powerful. Entertainment its but I won't ask you. Something before we end because its interest thing. About you looking at your work if they're like two or three things that you've done. Dot don't have to be the best thing that you think you've ever done but the ones where you can look at it and say. I got really close to what I wanted to do with death. This really got to me he resonated inside of me as well as an audience. The ones that I am closest to. Are the ones that didn't get the love that I fell or the or were seen. So because I'll of them I let everything I do equally. But what what. You always tend to love that the ones that are not. He loved more the weakest of the weakest child so I. Think that that would be paper boy with Nicole Kidman and Matthew McConaughey and John Cusack and Zack Ephron I think that some of their best work and some of my best work and I think that it was just so out there that people just couldn't. Couldn't really was ahead of its I think it was in the seventy minute standing ovation hand. The other would be probably my directorial debut which was shadow box office. Love that one think you had that had. As the greatest love scene between Joseph Gordon-Levitt and mentally that anybody who Anderson that things exciting I'll I mean an instant that I remember. Coming home from Toronto. And and and the opening in New York Post an aunt and seeing it on the front page of the New York Post as. The film's worst if this this year's worst film ever. And it and it cracked my heart and really I didn't I might not have done precious had four. Sheer wields improved. That person wrong are you did it I put you through hell did that we end the show always and song you can have a popcorn while you do it but. What's going on in your head what are you singing in your own net. When I think you ma'am yeah. He angels. Pay any aid. In. Art monk. When it yeah my homeland. Four. This. Who I eight. The amber can there be why don't I don't you know I can't there be amid a wider I was no. I I was I was I was. In it higher I audition I auditioned for that show I bet he did and abundantly much. I want to play was a father bond dropped yet and I didn't out of 88 weed out and stand back and blame him how to how would I know wasn't. I. L Edmund entities that you give as a. It gave me Mac's. Passing enemy. I. Unease. Anything I would find had to remake of the sound of music. As captain Von Trapp I would. Good money how it. 20. That would be was in that it is a good seeing you if that thing you you can take it with you if you don't let things get. Now you always a pleasure that's what I think you're that think humans.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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