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James Marsden Replaces Matthew McConaughey As JFK In Lee Daniels’ ‘The Butler’

James Marsden Replaces Matthew McConaughey As JFK In Lee Daniels' 'The Butler'

The list of actors who have portrayed John F. Kennedy on the big and small screen over the years is eclectic to say the least. Folks as varied as Greg Kinnear, Martin Donovan, Bruce Greenwood, William Petersen and even Bruce Campbell have taken on the former president’s accent and enunciation to varying degrees of success. Now, James Marsden is going to give it a whirl.

Originally slotted for Matthew McConaughey who left the the project last month, the role will find Marsden stepping in and joining a huge ensemble in a story that will cut a swath through American history. The film will tell the true tale of Eugene Allen, the late White House butler who served eight presidents during his tenure from 1952 to 1986. Forest Whitaker will topline the movie as Allen (with Aml Ameen now on board as the younger version of the character) with David Oyelowo as his son, Oprah Winfrey as Allen’s wife, and Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard and Lenny Kravitz in undisclosed roles. Alan Rickman plays Ronald Reagan with Jane Fonda as his wife, John Cusack is Richard Nixon, Robin Williams is Dwight Eisenhower and Liam Neeson is Lyndon B. Johnson. Minka Kelly will hang off Marsden’s arm (lucky guy) as Jacqueline Kennedy, with Alex Pettyfer and Colman Dingo also on board, and Vanessa Redgrave circling a role. Phew.

While McConaughey was vague on his reasons for leaving the movie, we have to say, as much as we love the actor, it almost would’ve been distracting to see him in the role of JFK. Marsden is a bit more low profile, and as result, may blend more easily into the part. That said, Daniels has never been the best director of actors, and there is such a large chance here for many of the characters to slip into stereotypes — we’re wary. After the hostile to reception to “The Paperboy” at Cannes, Daniels will be out to prove that he wasn’t just a one hit wonder.

Production on the film kicks off in New Orleans this month. [Variety]

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