Macy Gray doesn’t mind that most of the buzz surrounding her latest film, Lee Daniel’s The Paperboy, which makes its North American debut at the Toronto International Film Festival later this week, is focussed on an already infamous scene in which Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman urinates on Disney heartthrob-turned-serious-actor Zac Efron.

“It’s very funny, for one thing,” the Grammy-winning singer/songwriter and actress tells The Huffington Post Canada. “It’s just Lee. He’s very good at getting people’s attention and he’s just very dynamic at showing different things that you’ve never seen before. So I think that people will always be surprised and shocked by things that happen in his movies.”

Gray is a friend of Daniels and such a fan of the Precious director’s work (she also starred in his 2005 assassin flick Shadowboxer) that she agreed to appear in The Paperboy before she knew a single thing about the film. “He called me up and told me that he had a role that he thought I’d be good in. And I said yes right away.”

As she found out more about the story behind the film, an unapologetically raunchy, based-on-a-true-story crime film that follows a reporter (Matthew McConaughey) who returns to his hometown to investigate a convicted killer (John Cusack) and try to prove his innocence, Gray became even more excited about the project.

“The minute I read the script, I thought it was really, really interesting,” the “I Try” singer recalls. “Then he told me about the cast he had up until that point. And I was just anxious to do a film with him, so everything about it was a turn-on for me. It was good.”

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  • Ben Affleck

    <strong>Appearing In:</strong> <em>To The Wonder</em> and <em>Argo</em> (which he's also directing) <br><em>(All Photos Getty Images)</em>

  • Viggo Mortensen

    <strong>Appearing In:</strong> <em>Everybody Has a Plan</em>, <em>On the Road</em>

  • Bill Murray

    <strong>Appearing In: </strong> <em>Hyde Park on Hudson</em>

  • Selena Gomez

    <strong>Appearing In:</strong> <em>Spring Breakers</em>, <em>Hotel Transylvania</em>

  • Jennifer Lawrence

    <strong>Appearing In:</strong> <em>Silver Linings Playbook</em>

  • Johnny Depp

    <strong>Appearing In:</strong> <em>West of Memphis</em>

  • Gwyneth Paltrow

    <strong>Appearing In:</strong> <em>Thanks for Sharing</em>

  • Ryan Gosling

    <strong>Appearing In:</strong> <em>The Place Beyond the Pines</em>

  • Bruce Willis

    <strong>Appearing In:</strong> <em>Looper</em>

  • Colin Firth

    <strong>Appearing In:</strong> <em>Arthur Newman</em>

  • Jackie Chan

    <strong>Appearing In:</strong> Attending the Shangri-La Hotel Toronto Asian Film Summit as a guest of honour

  • Dustin Hoffman

    <strong>Appearing In: </strong> <em>Quartet</em> (as director)

  • Kiefer Sutherland

    <strong>Appearing In:</strong> <em>The Reluctant Fundamentalist</em>

  • Tom Hanks

    <strong>Appearing In:</strong> <em>Cloud Atlas</em>

  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt

    <strong>Appearing In:</strong> <em>Looper</em>

  • Halle Berry

    <strong>Appearing In:</strong> <em>Cloud Atlas</em>

  • James Franco

    Appearing In: <em>The Iceman</em>, <em>Spring Breakers</em>

  • Javier Bardem

    <strong>Appearing In:</strong> <em>To The Wonder</em>

  • Jennifer Connelly

    <strong>Appearing In:</strong> <em>Writers</em>

  • Julianne Moore

    <strong>Appearing In:</strong> <em>What Maisie Knew</em>

  • Kate Hudson

    <strong>Appearing In:</strong> <em>The Reluctant Fundamentalist</em>

  • Marion Cotillard

    <strong>Appearing In:</strong> <em>Rust and Bone</em>

  • Will Smith

    <strong>Appearing In:</strong> Not yet disclosed

  • Penelope Cruz

    <strong>Appearing In:</strong> <em>Twice Born</em>

  • Robert Redford

    <strong>Appearing In:</strong> <em>The Company You Keep</em> (as director)

Daniels was equally thrilled to be working with the uniquely talented Gray and he began to expand her role, transforming Anita into a far more pivotal character than your average black maid. In the end, he decided to make Anita the narrator of the whole film. “In the original script I only had, like, two scenes. I only had a couple of lines,” she explains. “Once we confirmed that I was doing it, he tailored it for me, I think. It changed a lot after it was all done.”

Between the changes that Daniels made to the Anita character and the fact that he cast David Oyelowo in the role of Yardley Acheman, who is white in real life, the director has turned what was originally a very white Southern movie into something a little more modern and inclusive. Gray is a firm believer in her friend’s vision.

“I think he draws a lot from his own personal life and his own lifestyle and, of course, as a black director his movies are going to be influenced by black culture because that’s what he knows best and that’s where he comes from. I think being black in Hollywood, you’re prone to involve other black actors and things like that. I think that’s just a natural thing for him in all of his movies. He kind of mixes up who should be what and what they should look like. He plays a lot with characters and what people expect them to look like and I think that’s awesome.”

Daniels’ efforts are particularly important because Gray’s still not satisfied with the availability of roles for her and her fellow back actors. While she’s becoming more impressed with the quality of the parts, she’s still unsatisfied with the quantity of them.

“I think there’s a little bit of an improvement on how black people are portrayed,” she muses. “You don’t see so much of the slave movie anymore and a lot of the cliches have kind of gone away. But I think that’s just progress in our culture as a whole and our society in the way we’re perceived and the way people relate to us. And people are a lot more open than they used to be, so that reflects in art, always.

"It’s not like there’s definitely not an abundance of roles for black actors. I want that to get a lot better. But I think the way we’re portrayed has gotten a lot better.”

Screening Dates:

Friday, September 14
Visa Screening Room(Elgin)
6:00pm

Saturday, September 15
Ryerson Theatre
6:00pm


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  • Javier Bardem @ 'Sons Of The Clouds: The Last Colony' Premiere

    Actor/ Producer Javier Bardem attends the 'Sons Of The Clouds: The Last Colony' premiere during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival at the Ryerson Theatre on September 13, 2012 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Sarjoun Faour Photography/Getty Images)

  • Penelope Cruz @ 'Twice Born' Premiere

    Actress Penelope Cruz arrives at the 'Twice Born' premiere during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall on September 13, 2012 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

  • Penelope Cruz @ 'Twice Born' Premiere

    Actress Penelope Cruz arrives at the 'Twice Born' premiere during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall on September 13, 2012 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

  • Katherine LaNasa And Billy Bob Thornton @ 'Jane Mansfield's Car' Premiere

    Actress Katherine LaNasa (L) and actor/filmmaker Billy Bob Thornton arrive at the "Jane Mansfield's Car" Premiere during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival at the Roy Thomson Hall on September 13, 2012 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

  • Penélope Cruz @ 'Twice Born' Photo Call

    Actress Penélope Cruz attends the "Twice Born" Photo Call during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival at TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 13, 2012 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

  • Emile Hirsch @ Guess Portrait Studio

    Actor Emile Hirsch at Guess Portrait Studio on Day 8 during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival at Bell Lightbox on September 13, 2012 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Charles Leonio/Getty Images for Guess)

  • Monica Bellucci @ 'Rhino Season' Premiere

    Actress Monica Bellucci attends "Rhino Season" premiere during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival held at The Elgin Theatre on September 12, 2012 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

  • Octavia Spencer @ 'Smashed Premiere

    Actress Octavia Spencer attends the "Smashed" premiere during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival at Ryerson Theatre on September 12, 2012 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Alexandra Wyman/Getty Images)

  • Miss Universe Canada @ 'Rhino Season' Premiere

    Miss Universe Canada Sahar Biniaz attends the "Rhino Season" premiere during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival at The Elgin on September 12, 2012 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

  • Melanie Mullen And Ziya Tong @ 'Revolution' Screening Party

    Model Melanie Mullen (L) and TV personality Ziya Tong attend the TIFF Screening party following the world premiere of "Revolution" during thhe 2012 Toronto International Film Festival at C Lounge on September 12, 2012 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Sonia Recchia/Getty Images)

  • Mary Elizabeth Winstead @ 'Smashed' Premiere

    Actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead attends the "Smashed" premiere during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival at Ryerson Theatre on September 12, 2012 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Alexandra Wyman/Getty Images)

  • Marisa Tomei @ 'Inescapable'

    Actress Marisa Tomei arrives at the premiere for "Inescapable" during the Toronto International Film Festival on Tuesday Sept. 11, 2012 in Toronto. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

  • Ruba Nadda @ 'Inescapable'

    Director Ruba Nadda arrives at the premiere for "Inescapable" during the Toronto International Film Festival on Tuesday Sept. 11, 2012 in Toronto. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

  • Joshua Jackson @ 'Inescapable'

    Actor Joshua Jackson arrives at the premiere for "Inescapable" during the Toronto International Film Festival on Tuesday Sept. 11, 2012 in Toronto. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

  • Jason Bateman @ 'Disconnect'

    Jason Bateman, a cast member in the film "Disconnect," arrives at the premiere of the film at the 2012 Toronto Film Festival, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, in Toronto. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Rachel McAdams @ 'Passion'

    Actress Rachel McAdams attends the premiere for "Passion" at The Elgin Theatre during the Toronto International Film Festival on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, in Toronto. (Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)

  • Audrey Tatou @ 'Therese Desqueyroux'

    French actress Audrey Tatou arrives at the premiere for "Therese Desqueyroux" during the Toronto International Film Festival on Tuesday Sept. 11, 2012 in Toronto. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

  • Paula Patton @ InStyle and Hollywood Foreign Press Association Party

    Actress Paula Patton poses at the 13th Annual InStyle and Hollywood Foreign Press Association Toronto International Film Festival Party, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, in Toronto. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Abbie Cornish @ InStyle and Hollywood Foreign Press Association Party

    Actress Abbie Cornish poses at the 13th Annual InStyle and Hollywood Foreign Press Association Toronto International Film Festival Party, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, in Toronto. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Jacqueline MacInnes Wood @ InStyle and Hollywood Foreign Press Association Party

    Actress Jacqueline MacInnes Wood arrives at the 13th Annual InStyle And The Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Toronto International Film Festival Party at the Windsor Arms Hotel on September 11, 2012 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • Laura Carswell And Ben Bass @ InStyle and Hollywood Foreign Press Association Party

    Actors Laura Carswell (L) and Ben Bass attend the WGC Hosts Party With InStyle & HFPA To Celebrate TIFF at the Windsor Arms Hotel on September 11, 2012 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for WGC)

  • Travis Milne @ InStyle and Hollywood Foreign Press Association Party

    Actor Travis Milne attends the WGC Hosts Party With InStyle & HFPA To Celebrate TIFF at the Windsor Arms Hotel on September 11, 2012 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for WGC)

  • Diane Kruger And Joshua Jackson @ 'Inescapable'

    Actors Diane Kruger (L) and Joshua Jackson arrive at the 'Inescapable' Premiere during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall on September 11, 2012 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • Sunrise Coigney and Mark Ruffalo @ 'Thanks for Sharing' Post-Gala Party

    Sunrise Coigney and Mark Ruffalo arrive at Spice Route for the film party hosted by Audi following the post-special presentation screening of Thanks for Sharing on September 8 during the Toronto International Film Festival. <em>Credit: George Pimentel Photography</em>

  • Jennifer Garner @ 'Argo' Post-Gala Party

    Jennifer Garner arrives at Terroni for the film party hosted by Audi following the post-gala premiere of Argo on September 7 during the Toronto International Film Festival. <em>Credit: George Pimentel Photography</em>

  • Nina Dobrev @ 'Argo' Post-Gala Party

    Nina Dobrev arrives at Terroni for the film party hosted by Audi following the post-gala premiere of Argo on September 7 during the Toronto International Film Festival. <em>Credit: George Pimentel Photography</em>

  • Lauryn Hill @ ONEXONE Gala

    On September 8th, Rogers Communications and Diesel Canada presented an Intimate Evening with Ms. Lauryn Hill and special guests in support of ONEXONE at Toronto's Kool Haus. The event included opening acts by Kardinal Offishall and Jully Black. <em>Credit: George Pimentel</em>

  • Olunike Adeliyi @ ONEXONE

    On September 8th, Rogers Communications and Diesel Canada presented an Intimate Evening with Ms. Lauryn Hill and special guests in support of ONEXONE at Toronto's Kool Haus. The event included opening acts by Kardinal Offishall and Jully Black. <em>Credit: George Pimentel</em>

  • Kristin Kreuk @ ONEXONE

    On September 8th, Rogers Communications and Diesel Canada presented an Intimate Evening with Ms. Lauryn Hill and special guests in support of ONEXONE at Toronto's Kool Haus. The event included opening acts by Kardinal Offishall and Jully Black. <em>Credit: George Pimentel</em>

  • Stacy McKenzie @ ONEXONE

    On September 8th, Rogers Communications and Diesel Canada presented an Intimate Evening with Ms. Lauryn Hill and special guests in support of ONEXONE at Toronto's Kool Haus. The event included opening acts by Kardinal Offishall and Jully Black. <em>Credit: George Pimentel</em>

  • Jully Black @ ONEXONE

    On September 8th, Rogers Communications and Diesel Canada presented an Intimate Evening with Ms. Lauryn Hill and special guests in support of ONEXONE at Toronto's Kool Haus. The event included opening acts by Kardinal Offishall and Jully Black. <em>Credit: George Pimentel</em>

  • Roberto Alomar @ ONEXONE

    On September 8th, Rogers Communications and Diesel Canada presented an Intimate Evening with Ms. Lauryn Hill and special guests in support of ONEXONE at Toronto's Kool Haus. The event included opening acts by Kardinal Offishall and Jully Black. <em>Credit: George Pimentel</em>

  • Kardinal Offishall @ ONEXONE

    On September 8th, Rogers Communications and Diesel Canada presented an Intimate Evening with Ms. Lauryn Hill and special guests in support of ONEXONE at Toronto's Kool Haus. The event included opening acts by Kardinal Offishall and Jully Black. <em>Credit: George Pimentel</em>

  • Emily Blunt Taking A Candid Photo With A Fan

    ...Emily Blunt (in Tory Burch), telling a fan, she'd take the image of them herself -- at the Arthur Newman soiree, hosted by The Bay and Moet & Chandon.

  • Christopher Walken @ 'A Late Quartet' Pre-Cocktail Event Hosted By Swarovski Bloor Street

  • Imogen Poots @ 'A Late Quartet' Pre-Cocktail Event Hosted By Swarovski Bloor Street

  • Ray Liotta @ RUDSAK's 'The Iceman' TIFF Dinner

  • Winona Ryder @ RUDSAK's 'The Iceman' TIFF Dinner

  • Laura Linney @ 'Hyde Park on Hudson'

    Actress Laura Linney attends the "Hyde Park on Hudson" premiere at Roy Thomson Hall during the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday Sept. 10, 2012, in Toronto. (Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)

  • Zhang Ziyi @ 'Dangerous Liaisons' Premiere

    Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi arrives at the premiere for "Dangerous Liaisons" during the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday Sept. 10, 2012 in Toronto. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

  • Bill Murray @ Soho House

    Actor Bill Murray attends the Late Lounge hosted by Grey Goose Vodka at Soho House at on September 10, 2012 in Toronto, Canada.

  • Chris Evans @ 'The Iceman' Premiere

    Actor Chris Evans attends the premiere for "The Iceman" at The Princess of Wales Theatre during the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday Sept. 10, 2012, in Toronto.

  • Chris Evans, Winona Ryder, Michael Shannon, Ray Liota @ 'The Iceman' Premiere

    Actor Chris Evans, actress Winona Ryder, and actors Michael Shannon and Ray Liota attend the premiere for "The Iceman" at The Princess of Wales Theatre during the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday Sept. 10, 2012, in Toronto.

  • Michael Shannon @ 'The Iceman' Premiere

    Actor Michael Shannon attends the premiere for "The Iceman" at The Princess of Wales Theatre during the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday Sept. 10, 2012, in Toronto.

  • Olivia Williams @ 'Hyde Park On Hudson' Premiere

    Actress Olivia Williams attends the "Hyde Park on Hudson" premiere at Roy Thomson Hall during the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday Sept. 10, 2012, in Toronto.

  • Winona Ryder @ 'The Iceman' Premiere

    Actress Winona Ryder attends the premiere for "The Iceman" at The Princess of Wales Theatre during the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday Sept. 10, 2012, in Toronto.

  • Jang Dong-gun @ 'Dangerous Liaisons' Premiere

    Chines actor Jang Dong-gun arrives at the premiere for "Dangerous Liaisons" during the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday Sept. 10, 2012 in Toronto.

  • Bill Murray @ 'Hyde Park On Hudson' Premiere

    Actor Bill Murray attends the "Hyde Park on Hudson" premiere at Roy Thomson Hall during the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday Sept. 10, 2012, in Toronto.

  • Rachel McAdams @ 'To The Wonder' Premiere

    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 10: Actress Rachel McAdams attends the 'To The Wonder' premiere during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival at the Princess of Wales Theatre on September 10, 2012 in Toronto, Canada.

  • Bill Murray@ 'Hyde Park On Hudson' Premiere

    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 10: Actor Bill Murray attends 'Hyde Park On Hudson' premiere during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall on September 10, 2012 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

  • Olga Kurylenko @ 'To The Wonder' Premiere

    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 10: Actress Olga Kurylenko attends 'To The Wonder' premiere during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 10, 2012 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)