Surprising List of Actors to Play Presidents in Lee Daniels ‘Butler’ Movie

Jane Fonda, future Nancy Reagan on film. (Getty Images)

Lee Daniels, director of Precious, is currently in Cannes promoting the thriller The Paperboy, but he’s already planning his next film, an adaptation of a Washington Post article on a long-serving black White House butler who lived to see the election of Barack Obama. Early reports indicate that the butler, Eugene Allen, is to be played by Forest Whitaker and his wife by Oprah Winfrey, who likely needs a distraction from her OWN cable network. Matthew McConaughey, in Mr. Daniels’s Paperboy, is to play John F. Kennedy, somehow (but his accent is pure LBJ!); John Cusack is to become the latest actor to assay the part of Richard Nixon; Alan Rickman and Jane Fonda are playing the Reagans; Nicole Kidman is playing an unnamed role that we’d wager a President’s salary will be Jackie Kennedy.

It’s all very strange (a Brit playing the iconic Reagan? Jane Fonda playing a demure conservative?) but Lee Daniels has a knack for making peculiar casting work–his directing won Mo’Nique an Oscar and Mariah Carey newfound respect, and John Cusack as Nixon has a peculiar sweaty genius to it. He’ll be the one who wins an Oscar for this, right?