Despite “The Paperboy” being mostly trashed at Cannes earlier this year — our own reviewer said it was “a lurid, florid, humid, flaccid and insipid waste of time and money for the audience and everyone who made it” — Lee Daniels quickly settled into production on “The Butler,” which centers on Forest Whitaker as White House butler Eugene Allen, who served under 8 different presidents in his three-decade-long tenure. He’s assembled an all-star cast to back up Whitaker, and yesterday, the Great One herself, Oprah Winfrey (who plays Allen’s wife), tweeted a picture of herself on set with Daniels and Mr. & Mrs. Reagan, in the shape of Alan Rickman and, controversially, Jane Fonda.
The problem facing most films featuring historical figures is the resemblance, or lack thereof, of the actors with the figure they’re portraying. Sometimes they’re uncanny, like Daniel Day-Lewis in Steven Spielberg’s long-gestating “Lincoln,” and other times they’re little better than terrible impersonations (see Thandie Newton in Oliver Stone’s “W.”). In this case, we’re certainly not going to judge this one one way or the other — though Fonda does look remarkably similar to the former First Lady, and Rickman isn’t bad either, given that he’s far from the obvious pick for the part — considering the fact that it’s a decidedly unofficial photo.
Co-written by Daniels and “Recount” & “Game Change” screenwriter Danny Strong, and also starring James Marsden and Minka Kelly as John F. and Jackie Kennedy, Robin Williams as Dwight Eisenhower, John Cusack as Richard Nixon, Liev Schreiber as Lyndon B. Johnson, and the likes of David Oyelowo, Cuba Gooding Jr, Mariah Carey, Alex Pettyfer, Melissa Leo, Vanessa Redgrave, Terrence Howard, Nelsan Ellis and Jesse Williams, expect the film to be a player during next year’s awards season. Check out the picture in full below. [Cinema Blend]