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Director of the 1984 film 'Purple Rain' remembers Prince

by Take Two®

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Albert Magnoli directed Prince in the 1984 film "Purple Rain."

The world continued to mourn the passing of legendary musician Prince today.

Over the years, Prince adopted many different sounds and many different styles, but many fans first fell in love with him thanks to an incredible album and film, known as "Purple Rain."

The film came out in 1984 and starred Prince as a young musician on the rise to fame in Minneapolis.

The film was directed and written by Albert Magnoli, who was a relative newbie in the film world back when he was offered the opportunity to take the project on.

At the time, Magnoli says, Prince's manager Robert (Bob) Cavallo had been shopping around the script, but wasn't getting any takers.

Magnoli spoke with Take Two's Alex Cohen about what made him decide to take on "Purple Rain" and what it was like to work with Prince on the film.

Interview highlights:

On telling Prince's manager that the initial script wasn't right

"We sat down over a large breakfast [at DuPars in Sherman Oaks] and I explained to him that I knew nothing about the film industry except that I graduated from USC film school a year earlier, and was editing my first motion picture for MGM, and that essentially he had gotten caught in the web that was Hollywood at the time, and still is, whereby they did everything right except make the script authentic. And so I said unless this is coming from the heart, and unless this is going to be an authentic depiction of the life that's going on in Minneapolis with these musicians now, you don't have a chance."

On whether or not the film was about Prince's life story 

"The interesting thing about the screenplay being about his life, that's actually not true. I had no idea about Prince's personal life, all I had at my disposal at the time that I sat down to write was what I had learned upon meeting him and what I had learned upon meeting the other musicians. He kept his life very quiet, very personal. My vision of the piece was simply that I recognized a tremendous amount of vulnerability in Prince, and essentially that vulnerability inspired what was essentially a story that I pitched to Robert Cavallo in DuPars, sight unseen of Prince at the time. But upon meeting Prince within 24 hours after I discussed a new story with Robert Cavallo I met Prince for the first time and was immediately struck by just how vulnerable and sensitive he was and also very dedicated, it was obvious... And I said to Prince that very night that I met him I said if you are willing to do what it takes emotionally to connect to what I'm about to write, then I believe we have the chance to do something special. He agreed and the next seven to eight weeks I sat and wrote what became 'Purple Rain.'"

On whether Prince lost his vulnerability as he gained worldwide fame

"Not at all. It was a part of his core. A lot of people discuss his shyness, and that he was a man of few words, and a lot of that was a result of the vulnerability. He was just very guarded, very dedicated to his craft. If he could do his craft, if he could perform, if he could write music, that was his wheelhouse, that's where he felt comfortable. When he had to do the things in the musical business world that were required of him, that was less appealing and as a result he was a bit reticent."

To hear the full interview with Albert Magnoli, click the blue player above.

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