The Butler follows White House butler Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) over several decades, serving from Eisenhower to Reagan. For better or worse, director Lee Daniels (Precious) recruited a name cast to play the presidents: Robin Williams (Dwight D. Eisenhower), James Marsden (John F. Kennedy), Liev Schreiber (Lyndon B. Johnson), John Cusack (Richard Nixon), Alan Rickman (Ronald Reagan). Probably best they seem to skip Jimmy Carter, because Daniels openly laments: “We had to finance it through bringing in names that meant something overseas. It’s a very sad testament that [co-star] Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker can’t greenlight a film.”
If you want more names, Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, David Oyelowo, Mariah Carey, Jane Fonda, Minka Kelly, Lenny Kravitz, Melissa Leo, Alex Pettyfer, and Vanessa Redgrave also star. Hit the jump for new images, a Fonda-centric featurette with the first clip, and two TV spots.
“JANE FONDA FEATURETTE”
All images come from EW, who throws Cusack under the bus by placing Daniels’ “sad testament” quote under the image of Cusack as Nixon in the photo gallery.
I am not optimistic about The Butler, but I think it’s a neat premise, so I am rooting for Daniels and Co. to defy me and turn in a cohesive work. The Butler opens August 16.