Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Future Of Film
The 100 Greatest Video Games
Robin Williams: The Big Interview
Kevin Feige:
My Movie Life

The Marvel supremo's pick of the flicks
Want To Be An Empire Journalist?
Find out how here
Feature
Lee Daniels On The Butler’s Presidents
A director's blow-by-blow on Cusack, Rickman and co

submit to reddit

Newly arrived in UK cinemas, Lee Daniels’ The Butler is part father-and-son yarn, part generation-spanning caboose through modern American history. It’s already a hit in the US and brings with it early Oscar buzz and a pair of stellar performances by Forest Whitaker as White House butler Cecil Gaines, and Oprah Winfrey as his stoical, forthright wife Gloria. If you’ve seen its poster, you’ll know it boasts more big names than a German aristocrat’s phone book, with five of them belonging to the actors playing the presidents served by Gaines: Robin Williams, Liev Schreiber, James Marsden, John Cusack and Alan Rickman. We asked Daniels to talk through them.

WORDS PHIL DE SEMLYEN
1 2 3 4 5
  1 of 5 Next

Robin Williams As Dwight D. Eisenhower

Robin Williams reunited with his old Good Morning Vietnam co-star Forest Whitaker in a POTUS / butler relationship that saw Williams dialling back the Cronauer to capture the introspective, enigmatic figure. With his combover, glasses and penchant for painting florid landscapes, Eisenhower is the film’s entry point into the Oval Office and, says Daniels, its key president. “I knew the audience would be jarred by Robin Williams,” Daniels explains...

Robin Williams As Dwight D. Eisenhower

“The challenge for Robin was about losing ‘Robin Williams’. It was hard because Robin has a tendency to make you laugh, so we had to strip him bare and make him quiet. It took a minute for him to get out of his comfort zone, which is always to make you laugh, to make you happy. Because Robin is the first president we see, he’s carrying the torch for the believability of all the presidents. Because he’s the first, people’s reaction is like: ‘Oh, that’s where we’re going with this movie’. He was okay with the combover! It was more me trying to make sure it was perfect. [Ike’s] landscapes... well, they weren’t that great. I told Robin to just paint, because that’s what Ike did, so half of each painting we have in the film was his. They were all paint-by-numbers. (Empire suggests putting the paintings on eBay) Should I? I could make some money. That’s a good idea! I can donate it them to charity.”

1 2 3 4 5
 
1 of 5
Next

Have Your Say
Register or login now to let us know what you think.

Your Comments

1
I thought robin Williams was playing Truman. More

Posted by seanofthedead on Friday November 15, 2013, 18:58

SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The Bond Girls Who Made It Big
The actresses who overcame the curse of 007 to forge successful careers

The Future Of Film: A Woman Will Direct Star Wars
No longer a men’s club, Hollywood is going to start opening its doors...

The Empire Podcast #130: Interviews With Rosamund Pike, Lee Child And Antoine Fuqua
The Gone Girl star, Jack Reacher author and The Equalizer director pop in for a chat

The Future Of Film: Movie Posters Will Talk To You (And Buy Your Tickets)
Movie posters will be bigger, better... and talk to you?

The 50 Greatest Voice Performances In Movies
Who has the most talented tonsils in town?

25 Movie Songs Bigger Than The Movie
The film tunes that transcend their origins...

Denzel Washington: A Viewer’s Guide
The highs and lows of The Equalizer star’s career to date

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 6 Issues Of Empire For Only £15!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)