Considering the absolute dearth of activity and information that lasted for about 18 months, movement on Lee Daniels‘ The Butler is happening at semi-remarkable speeds. Less than a day after word flew in that Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo, and a small crop of other talent were all being angled for the biopic, FirstShowing has learned that Liam Neeson is Daniels‘ top pick to play the United States’ 37th President, Lyndon B. Johnson.
Knowing the story and its use of time, it makes sense that they’d go for someone of Neeson‘s gravitas and caliber for the part; with the main focus being on Eugene Allen — a man who saw social change occur right before his eyes while serving as a White House butler for 33 years — this President in particular had a crucial role in where the country went for decades to come. Much of the Civil Rights movement was at its most productive during Johnson’s time in office, only to be followed by civil insurrection spurred on by racial tensions, the war in Vietnam, and so forth. With that in mind, I don’t need to tell you that Neeson would probably kill this part, right? Lest we forget his long-standing chance to play Spielberg‘s Lincoln, of course.
FirstShowing updates us further along the casting path, saying that both Winfrey and John Cusack are edging closer toward the roles of Allen’s wife, Helene, and Richard Nixon, respectively. No further word on the other potential stars — Mila Kunis, Hugh Jackman, or David Oyelowo — the lattermost of whom would be playing Allen; if it doesn’t go to him, the part of Eugene Allen “might even be the chance for an unknown talent to step up and take the role.” Interesting to cast someone of unknown stature around such big stars, but, actor-wise, it should be smooth sailings for The Butler if everyone else can get locked in.
Could you see Neeson doing a good Johnson impersonation? Is The Butler looking better and better as time goes on?