'The Help' actresses talk roles, race and Hollywood

I am so excited about this movie. I hope I get to read the book before the movie comes out. This seems like a very powerful movie with a very powerful cast. I cannot wait for opening night.

A period drama set amid the explosive racial politics of the 1960s South. An all-female ensemble cast. An inexperienced director.

It sounds like a recipe for a movie that would send studio executives running. Yet "The Help" — a complex tale of white women and their relationships with the black maids who clean their houses and care for their children — didn't just get made. Arriving in theaters Aug. 10, the DreamWorks film is vying for the attention of audiences more interested in substantive fare as Hollywood begins to shake off the popcorn movies of summer.

Based on Kathryn Stockett's 2009 novel, the film project had one thing going for it: the book's popularity. Reviewers loved it, and readers couldn't finish it fast enough; it stayed atop bestseller lists for close to two years.

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