Oprah Winfrey asked permission from Forest Whitaker's wife so she could get cosy with the star in a bid to create chemistry for Lee Daniels' The Butler.

The media mogul, who plays Whitaker's onscreen partner in the hit drama, would often rub the actor's shoulders and hold hands with him in a bid to create real chemistry for the film, but insists she spoke to his real wife, Keisha, about it first.

She tells U.K. talk show Loose Women, "I wanted to have real chemistry (in the film). I would just sort of ease my way over and go behind him and rub his shoulders and just stand there and rub his shoulders.

"Sometimes sitting on set I would purposely go and sit next to him, I would put my hand on his knee and start rubbing his knee... I called his wife first and said 'You know, I'm trying to build a relationship' and it actually worked."

Whitaker, who plays a butler who worked at the White House under eight consecutive presidents, previously said of Winfrey's dedication to the role: "It was an amazing experience for me. (Winfrey) was so committed to our relationship. In between the scenes, when we're trying to develop our rapport and continue to build our connection, she would be so generous, she would rub my back, or, you know, we'd walk hand in hand to the set and talk, and I think it led to the magic of us being able to really be connected in the film."