Mo’Nique says her fearless performance as the monstrous mother in Precious was helped by the fearlessness of director Lee Daniels. “Because he was not afraid we couldn’t be afraid either and that’s the whole string of the movie, that’s the strand of the movie, so we all looked at our director and because he was so willing to jump over the edge, how could we not,” says the actress.

Also an established comedian, Mo’Nique brings depth to Precious’ brutally abusive mother Mary — and even makes the audience feel for her in a crucial scene opposite a social worker, played by Mariah Carey. “…In that last scene we wanted people to see that she’s mentally ill, there’s a sickness, so that’s really what we were trying to get to and Mr Daniels said to me, ‘How did you get me to hate you and love you at the same time?’”

Mo’Nique’s performance has already won her the Golden Globe for supporting actress as well as a Bafta nomination. Precious picked up six Oscar nominations in total, including a leading actress nod for newcomer Gabourey Sidibe. “There were times I was in awe of that young lady,” says Mo’Nique. “She was absolutely amazing and if she was afraid, you never knew it. There were scenes that we did together and I would look at her and be amazed because it was so believable.”

Mo’Nique says she didn’t take the traumatic material home with her at night. “When my husband and I discussed the role and the movie, he said to me leave it there and don’t judge it and that’s what I did. The moment Mr Daniels said ‘cut’, I left it right there. I didn’t take it home with me… We’re actors and actresses. When you get a script in front of you, you become that person when he says ‘action’. When he says ‘cut’ you leave it on the floor and that’s exactly what we did.”

Mike Goodridge