The first trailer for “The Butler” has just been released and showcases the pedigree of this project. Director Lee Daniels (“Precious”) was inspired by the life of Eugene Allen, who worked at the White House for 34 years, rising from pantry man to head butler. Emmy champ Danny Strong (“Gmae Change”) scripted this fictional version of his story.
Oscar champ Forest Whitaker (“The Last King of Scotland,” 2006) plays the title role while one-time Academy Award nominee Oprah Winfrey returns to the screen after a 15-year absence in the role of his wife.
Among those playing the presidents and first ladies are Oscar champs Robin Williams (“Good Will Hunting,” 1996) as Dwight Eisenhower, Melissa Leo (“The Fighter,” 2010) as his wife Mamie and Jane Fonda (“Klute,” 1971; “Coming Home,” 1978) as Nancy Reagan.
1996 Supporting Actor winner Cuba Gooding Jr. (“Jerry Maguire”, who worked with Daniels on his first film “Shadowboxer,” plays another one of the White House domestic staff. Vanessa Redgrave, who won her 1977 Supporting Actress Oscar as the title character in “Julia” opposite Fonda, is the woman who inspires him to leave his life as a sharecropper. And 2005 nominee Terrence Howard is a family friend.
The Weinstein Company is releasing the picture on October 18 but don’t be surprised to see it unspool at one of the key film festivals in Telluride, Venice and Toronto before then.