Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg

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Oprah Winfrey may be plenty of things, but she's not fearless!

The media mogul confessed to being "terrified" of Steven Spielberg during The Hollywood Reporter's  Actress Roundtable with Julia Roberts, Octavia Spencer, Emma Thompson, Lupita Nyong'o and Amy Adams.

When asked what the best or worst piece of advice she's ever been given, the Butler actress recalled filming a particularly grueling scene in 1985's The Color Purple.

"I didn't know anything about acting," she explained. "I'd never even been to Universal Studios. So I walked in, first scene, first day…I looked directly in the camera because that's what you do on television. I walked in and went, ‘How you doing, Miss Celie' and he went, ‘Cut! Cut! Cut! What is wrong with you?' And I'm standing there, trembling. [I was] terrified."

Oprah Winfrey, Medal of Freedom

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Winfrey's acting chops weren't finely tuned yet though, and she initially had trouble evoking certain emotions on demand.

"There was a scene where [Spielberg] asked me to cry. I loved being in that film so much, it just changed everything in my life, and I came to set even when I didn't have to work, and I'd be in the background crying. So Steven goes, "I want you to do that this afternoon." Well, I had no idea how to make that happen again."

She added, "I had no technical skills, and when the scene was being filmed, I couldn't cry. I could hear the film turning in the camera, and the entire room waiting for me to cry."

Luckily for Winfrey, her costar Adolph Caesar was in the room next door and offered her a bit of sage advice to help with the difficult scene.

"He gave me the greatest acting lesson. He said: ‘You need to learn to give yourself over to the character. Let the character take control. And if she wants to cry, she'll cry, and if she doesn't, not even Steven Spielberg can make her.'"

And the rest, as they say, is movie making history!

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