Haygood spoke to a packed house at UC on Tuesday as a guest of the university's annual speaker series, sponsored by the Dow Chemical Foundation.
"This is a story about power because it involves the White House and legislation and bills... but it's a story brought down to earth by a very, very humble, common couple. And I think a lot of people can identify with the real life butler and his wife, and I think that's why the story has, you might say, gripped the nation," he said Tuesday.
Allen and his wife both died before the film inspired by them was released. But Haygood says he is happy knowing that their story has reached so many.
"People who knew him have told me personally that that's him up on the screen. Down to his voice, his mannerisms, his walk," Haygood said. "Charles, his son, came to the movie set last summer and turned to me and said, 'It is uncanny how Forest and Oprah have captured my mom and dad.'"
Haygood said that during his younger days at the Gazette -- which he credits for helping form his "writing muscle" -- he would have never dreamed that one day his work would lead to this.
"I don't think anyone can ever say that they dreamed of being on a movie set with six Oscar winners making a movie based on a story that you wrote -- it's just too unreal to even think that," he said. "There are some mornings I still have to pinch myself. Sometimes I walk by a movie theater and I'll just stand across the street and watch the people buying tickets and I just think, 'Wow.'"
Haygood's book, "Sweet Thunder: The Life and Times of Sugar Ray Robinson," is in the works to become his next book-to-film adaptation.
Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.