The cast list continues to grow and grow, with Matthew McConaughey, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard also reportedly in the mix to play yet-to-be-made-public real-life characters in Lee Daniels' The Butler, which already stars Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo, John Cusack and Jane Fonda already – a cast list that certainly has my attention!
THR says that the IM Global has come onboard the project, and will shop it around at the Cannes Film Market later this month, with plans to sell international rights to the drama which is inspired by a 2008 Washington Post article by Wil Haygood titled A Butler Well Served by This Election (read it HERE); it pretty much summarizes Mr Allen's many years of service in the White House, leading up to President Obama's election.
In a recent Vanity Fair piece on Whitaker, he shared some crucial bits of info on the project that were worth sharing:
“It’s a movie about the issue of how you protest… My son [to be played by David Oyelowo] is an activist who is repeatedly arrested. My character is a conformist, but in his own way, he influences presidents. Eugene becomes more active, particularly at the end of his life, when he makes a decision to fight.”
So that tells me it's not just a biopic covering Allen's almost 3 dozen years of life in the White House; and I did wonder why David Oyelowo was cast as his son, thinking at the time that the role would be relatively minor, and it would be all about the title character Whitaker will play in the film.
Reads like it'll maybe be more of a struggle between generations on how to deal with the racism blacks experienced in this country over those 34 years – the pacifist older father's approach versus the rebellious younger son's radicalism. And eventually, the father maybe comes over to the son's side of things, or they meet each other in the middle.
I think this makes it more intriguing – to me anyway – than just a visual documentation of Allen's presidential term-to-term life as a White House butler.
The script is said to be done, and the cast is mostly in place with Oprah playing Allen's/Whitaker's wife, Fonda as Nancy Reagan, and Cusack rumored as Richard Nixon.
Daniels will be at the Cannes Film Festival anyway, where his latest work The Paperboy (which also co-stars Cusack and McConaughey by the way), will premiere.
Clearly Daniels loves familiar faces, as The Butler will feature a few he's worked with previously (or is attached to work with on other projects), whether in front of or behind the camera. Don't be surprised is Lenny Kravitz's name comes up as well as a candidate for a role in The Butler.