In the new based-on-a-true-story film from Precious director Lee Daniels (also of Nicole Kidman/Zac Efron Pee Movie fame), Oprah Winfrey plays Gloria Gaines, wife of Cecil Gaines, a fictional White House butler whose real life counterpart, Eugene Allen, worked through the terms of eight U.S. Presidents from 1952 to 1986. The film is called The Butler. Forrest Whitaker plays the butler.
Robin Williams plays Dwight Eisenhower. James Marsden plays John F. Kennedy. Minka Kelly plays Jackie Kennedy. Liev Schreiber plays Lyndon Johnson. Nelsan Ellis (better known as Lafayette from True Blood) plays Martin Luther King, Jr. Lenny Kravitz is in it and Vanessa Redgrave is in it and Mariah Carey is in it. Yaya from season three of America's Next Top Model is in it.
If the sprawling, star-studded ensemble cast, cobbled haphazardly from a weird dream you had (not a good dream or a bad dream — just a weird dream) is starting to make the film sound a bit like Love Actually, that's because the film is Love Actually: Alan Rickman plays Ronald Reagan. Jane Fonda plays Nancy Reagan. Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding, Jr. are also in the movie because everyone who has ever existed is in this movie. There's me in the back playing a White House tour guide. There's Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens as Spiro Agnew. There's Vanessa Hudgens as Bill Clinton's cat, Socks. We're all excited to be here, playing a part of history.
The Butler's screenplay was inspired by this Washington Post article on Eugene Allen written on the eve of President Obama's 2008 election. (Warning: The Post story contains a weepy ending which could be a spoiler for the movie, inasmuch as accounts of real life events can ever be thought of as "spoilers" for the movies they inspire.)
What remains to be seen is whether the film, expected to hit theaters in October, will be enough to propel Oprah to stardom.
In the meantime, you can watch her slap someone in the trailer.
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