THE BUTLER is an upcoming historical drama film directed by Lee Daniels (Precious), based on the life of Eugene Allen, a real-life butler who served seven sitting Presidents of the United States in the White House until his retirement in 1986. The film marks Oprah Winfrey’s first big-screen appearance since 1998’s “Beloved”. She plays the mother to Forest Whitaker’s character, the title role of butler Cecil Gaines.
The all-star cast also includes Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan, Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan,John Cusack as Richard Nixon, James Marsden as John F. Kennedy, Minka Kelly as Jackie Kennedy, Liev Schreiber as Lyndon B. Johnson,Robin Williams as Dwight Eisenhower, Melissa Leo as Mamie Eisenhower, Orlando Eric Street as Barack Obama and Nelsan Ellis as Martin Luther King Jr. Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Lenny Kravitz, David Oyelowo, Vanessa Redgrave and Alex Pettyfer also are among the ensemble.
It is the story of a White House butler who served eight American presidents over three decades. The film traces the dramatic changes that swept American society during this time, from the civil rights movement to Vietnam and beyond, and how those changes affected this man’s life and family.
The film’s title was up for a possible rename due to a MPAA claim from Warner Bros., which released a 1916 silent short film with the same name. The case was subsequently resolved with the MPAA granting the Weinstein Company permission to add Daniels’ name in front of the title, under the condition that his name was “75% the size of The Butler”. On July 23, 2013, the distributor unveiled a revised poster, displaying the title as Lee Daniels’ The Butler.