Atlantan Lou Gossett Jr. said ‘The Color Purple’ was ‘like a reunion’

He plays Mister’s irascible father in the musical remake that came out Christmas Day.
Lou Gossett Jr. plays Mister's crotchety dad in the musical version of "The Color Purple," which opened in theaters Dec. 25, 2023. WARNER BROS.

Credit: WAN

Credit: WAN

Lou Gossett Jr. plays Mister's crotchety dad in the musical version of "The Color Purple," which opened in theaters Dec. 25, 2023. WARNER BROS.

At age 87, Oscar-winning actor Lou Gossett Jr. has nothing more to prove and considers himself “on the verge of semi-retirement.”

But when he was offered a role in the musical version of “The Color Purple,” which was shot in Georgia and released on Christmas Day, he had no problem saying yes. He played Mister’s crotchety father Albert “Mister” Johnson.

He’s been friends for decades with producers Quincy Jones, Oprah Winfrey and Alice Walker, author of the 1982 best-selling book “The Color Purple.”

“We all grew up in the business together,” said Gossett in an interview last Friday with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It was like a reunion. It’s great to be part of that family. It was like Easter and Thanksgiving and Christmas wrapped into one. There was so much love and respect.”

He was able to watch actors like Taraji P. Henson and Fantasia Barrino perform their magic in person. “It was so wonderful to see Fantasia go from winning ‘American Idol’ to where she is now,” he said. “That’s a miracle. And it’s great to see how far Taraji has come.”

Gossett moved to Atlanta a few years ago and has enjoyed his time here, nabbing a key role in the HBO series “Watchman” in 2019. As a child, the New York native spent summers in Athens with his great-grandmother. “It was a farm with watermelon, cabbage and okra,” he said. “It was all organic. We were poor but very healthy!”

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He said his favorite restaurants in Atlanta are Atlanta Fish Market and South City Kitchen, which “feels like home to me.”

“The Color Purple” was shot before the actors and writers strikes that shut down most film and TV production for months this year. Gossett said he understands the fear regarding artificial intelligence.

“We have to be careful,” he said. “It’s an open field. The worry is they can hire you for one day, replicate your image and not pay you ever again. The machine could take over and it has no feelings.”

Gossett has an animated film coming out in 2024 called “If” that was produced by John Krasinski and also features the voices of Steve Carell, Ryan Reynolds and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. “I play a bear,” he said. “I enjoyed it. You can act sitting down.”

And though he doesn’t work all the time anymore, he said he will keep acting as long as he can. “You cannot not work,” he said. “It’s in my system. I enjoy being on a set. I’m not always the lead anymore but I can executive produce. I can create projects. It’s in my bloodstream.”