We first started hearing about The Butler several years ago, right around the time of the 2008 election. The film, adapted from the story of Eugene Allen and his decades working as the White House butler for more than half a dozen presidents, was set to be written by Danny Strong, who turned in an eventually blacklisted biopic script. Precious director Lee Daniels is on board to helm the project.

The film is starting to gain traction and a pretty big blast of casting notices have escaped in the last few days, and they include several interesting choices for major roles including Liam Neeson as Lyndon B. Johnson, John Cusack playing Richard Nixon (hey, kind of brilliant!), Oprah Winfrey as Allen’s wife, with Hugh Jackman,┬áDavid Oyelowo, and Mila Kunis also sought for unknown “key” roles.

Obviously this is being engineered as quite the event film, as it sets the stage for a rotating cast of historical American cameos and dramatic glimpses of watershed events like the Kennedy/MLK assassinations, several wars and conflicts, movements and controversies of all types… Allen was witness to events at the very top of American politics during most of the post-WWII era. I’m hoping Strong’s script appeared no the Blacklist not because of its obvious marketing potential, but because it somehow found a way to selectively course through this man’s long history, rather than simply peppering it through a typical life-lived epic. The creative talent in play will hopefully ensure this isn’t another Eric Roth-style syrupy epic that doesn’t ultimately mean or say much while it play connect-the-dots with iconic events.

There’s still a lead to confirm and probably a few more notable casting decisions, so expect to hear more as this develops.

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Source | First Showing