Forest Whitaker’s fondness for playing real people shows no sign of abating. Just last month he was reported as attached to play Desmond Tutu in Roland Joffe’s The Archbishop And The Antichrist. If Lee Daniels has his way, Whitaker will soon be genning up on Downton Abbey as research for another historically driven production, The Butler.
In a weird coinky dink, the very same day that the Whitaker / Tutu story broke, there was word on the news wires about Daniels starting to assemble a wish list of people including Oprah Winfrey, Hugh Jackman, John Cusack and David Oyelowo to star or cameo in The Butler, which Danny Strong and the director adapted from Wil Haygood’s 2008 Washington Post story, A Butler Well Served By This Election.
The film, like the article, will chronicle the career of Eugene Allen, who began working for the White House in the kitchen and eventually became the building’s trusted butler, serving eight presidents between 1952 and 1986.
Now Variety reports that Daniels is still looking to fill the ensemble, but that – assmuming they set deals – Whitaker, Winfrey and Oyelowo will be the focus, playing Allen, his wife and son.
Whitaker has action thrillers Pawn and The Last Stand making their way through postproduction, with Pawn likely to arrive this year and Stand set for 2013. Daniels, meanwhile, will next release steamy thriller The Paperboy.