While Lee Daniels hasn’t been shy about his expressing his feelings that “The Butler” represents of something of a compromise of his vision in order to deliver a PG-13 cut to theaters, that’s not to say the director doesn’t continue to think far outside the usual box. In an interview with the New York Times the filmmaker reveals that he was toying with the idea of taking his movie — which spans decades of American history, and includes appearances by President Nixon, JFK and Ronald Reagan — and telling the story right up to the present day.
“Initially, the script had Obama in it, but I thought that would have been overkill. And we didn’t even know whether we could get him,” Daniels admits. “He was doing a campaign, and if they had heard he was doing a movie in the middle of a campaign — God knows. I was tempted to call Oprah to call the president, but I couldn’t bring myself to ask her.” And while that may seem like a long shot idea, Daniels is nothing if not driven, and he had an even wilder pitch he threw to Oprah Winfrey for a project that unsurprisingly, didn’t happen.
“Oprah was a producer on ‘Precious,’ and we were looking for things to do. I sent her something that was my version of a black ‘Misery,’ where she plays this serial killer,” Daniels shared. “And Oprah said, ‘Are you bonkers?’ That didn’t work, so we developed this role.”
And while we would love to see the beloved Oprah go to the dark side, her collaboration with Daniels is undoubtedly a success. The movie topped the box office this weekend, handily defeating the competition, coming in the shape of a comic book movie sequel. And while Daniels has yet landed on his next project, something tells us he’ll once again have an interesting surprise up his sleeve.