It looks as though Precious director Lee Daniels has settled on his lead for the period drama The Butler. Based on a Washington Post article, the film tells the story of Eugene Allen, a black man who served as the White House butler under eight U.S. Presidents from 1952 to 1986. Variety reports that Oscar winner Forest Whitaker and David Oyelowo (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) are now in negotiations to join the cast, with Whitaker tapped to play the lead. We previously reported that Oprah Winfrey is in talks to star, with a number of actors in the mix for cameo roles as the famous figures who come in and out of the White House. Hit the jump for more on the project.
The plan is to cast The Butler similar to Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln in that a large portion of the supporting cast will be playing bit parts as famous people, with Whitaker, Winfrey and Oyelowo set as the main stars. John Cusack, Mila Kunis, and Hugh Jackman have already been mentioned for possible cameo spots, and I’m sure many will jump at the chance to appear in the film.
Whitaker hasn’t been seen in many high profile dramatic projects since his Oscar win in 2006, so I’m excited to see him take the lead in this promising project. His Best Actor Academy Award for The Last King of Scotland was rightfully deserved, and I’ve been waiting on him to capitalize on the win for quite a while. Oyelowo has become quite prolific as of late, with turns in Lincoln, the actioner One Shot opposite Tom Cruise, and Daniels’ The Paperboy all on the horizon. Financing for The Butler isn’t yet secured, but the plan is to begin production this summer after everyone’s deals are finalized.