She did say she was committed to returning to acting, and was talking to directors like Tyler Perry, Jonathan Demme and Lee Daniels, so this shouldn’t be a surprise. She was bound to appear in one of their films sooner or later.
On the heels of news earlier today that she might be replacing the late Whitney Houston in the sequel to Waiting To Exhale, Oprah Winfrey is reportedly “eyeing” a role in director Lee Daniels’ The Butler, to be produced by Laura Ziskin (Pretty Woman, As Good As It Gets, Spider-Man 1, 2 & 3). The drama is based on Eugene Allen, an African American who worked as a butler in the White House for over 34 years, serving 8 presidents from 1952 to 1986.
First announced in mid-2010 as a Sony Pictures project, The Butler now being financed independently (says THR), and Daniels has reportedly been busy “putting together a top-notch cast.”
Recall it was rumored that Denzel Washington was Daniels’ man for the starring role as the butler, but word is that he wants David Oyelowo instead (who is also attached to star as MLK in Daniels’ in Limbo project Selma, and will appear in Daniels’ recently-completed thriller The Paperboy).
Oprah Winfrey would play the butler Eugene Allen’s wife (I’m guessing the *older* version of his wife in the film, since she certainly wouldn’t be playing David Oyelowo’s wife).
Other actors being offered roles include Mila Kunis to play Jackie Kennedy, and John Cusack to play Richard Nixon. Hugh Jackman’s name is also in the mix, but no word on what character he’d play.
Allen started at the White House as a “pantry man” in 1952 when blacks weren’t allowed to use public restrooms in his native Virginia. He ended up serving eight presidents, and had a unique front row seat, as political and racial history was being made, from the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement, to the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr., President John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy Jr.
The film is based on a series of articles written on Allen by Wil Haygood.