Eugene Allen spent 34 years working as a caretaker at the White House beginning in 1952; by the time Allen retired in 1986, he had served as the butler for a total of seven sitting U.S. presidents, starting with Dwight D. Eisenhower and ending on Ronald Reagan. This fall’s awards-bait release, The Butler, is a dramatization of his experiences, with Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker (The Last Stand) headlining as the eponymous protagonist inspired by Allen, who has been re-named Cecil Gaines in the film biopic.
Oprah Winfrey and David Oyelowo (Jack Reacher) costar as Gaines’ wife and his son, who find themselves at odds about their approach to social upheaval – the passive resistance favored by Civil Rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. versus more aggressive tactics preferred by organizations like the Black Panthers – and whether Cecil is part of the problem or the solution.
Rounding out the star-studded cast for The Butler is Oscar-winner Robin Williams as President Eisenhower, James Marsden (X-Men 1-3) as John F. Kennedy, Liev Schreiber (Salt) as Lyndon B. Johnson, John Cusack (The Raven) as Richard Nixon and Alan Rickman (Harry Potter) and Jane Fonda as Ronald and Nancy Reagan.
Oscar-winner Cuba Gooding Jr. and Oscar-nominee Terrence Howard (Red Tails) play Cecil’s peers and co-workers at the White House; meanwhile, additional support is coming from acclaimed character actors/actresses like Melissa Leo (The Fighter), Lenny Kravitz (The Hunger Games) and Vanessa Redgrave (Atonement).
Most of the trailer for The Butler is spent just listing off members of the prestigious cast – that and emphasizing that Oprah’s in the movie – so much that, in fact, you might not catch that The Butler was directed by Lee Daniels (Precious). The script was co-written by Daniels and Danny Strong, who was the writer of HBO’s award-winning Sarah Palin memoir Game Change; he is also scripting both Part 1 and 2 of the upcoming The Hunger Games: Mockingjay movie adaptation.
Daniels and Strong have impressive resumes, but have been accused in the past of recklessly exploiting sensitive political and social issues by their detractors (see: the divisive reception for Daniels’ The Paperboy). There’s very much potential for The Butler to be something great; however, there’s also the chance it might turn out to be a miscalculated attempt to tell a fascinating real-life story – through the lens of a celebrity-filled Hollywood biopic, that is.
The Butler opens in U.S. theaters on August 16th, 2013.
Source: Yahoo! Movies