The Butler

The Butler (full title Lee Daniels' The Butler)[4][5] is a 2013 American historical drama film directed and co-produced by Lee Daniels and with a screenplay by Danny Strong.[6] It is inspired by Wil Haygood's Washington Post article "A Butler Well Served by This Election".

The Butler
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLee Daniels
Written byDanny Strong
Based on"A Butler Well Served By This Election"
by Wil Haygood
Produced by
CinematographyAndrew Dunn
Edited byJoe Klotz
Music byRodrigo Leão
Distributed byThe Weinstein Company
Release date
  • August 16, 2013 (2013-08-16)
Running time
132 minutes[1][2]
CountryUnited States
Budget$30 million[2][3]
Box office$176.6 million[2]

Loosely based on the real life of Eugene Allen, who worked in the White House for decades, the film stars Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines, an African-American who is a witness of notable political and social events of the 20th century during his 34-year tenure serving as a White House butler.[7][8] In addition to Whitaker, the film's all-star cast also features Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey, John Cusack, Nelsan Ellis, Jane Fonda, Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Minka Kelly, Elijah Kelley, Lenny Kravitz, James Marsden, David Oyelowo, Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Redgrave, Alan Rickman, Liev Schreiber, Robin Williams, and Clarence Williams III. It was the last film produced by Laura Ziskin,[9][10] who died on June 12, 2011, and it was also the final film appearance of Clarence Williams III, who retired from acting in 2018 and died on June 4, 2021.

The film was theatrically released by the Weinstein Company on August 16, 2013, to mostly positive reviews from critics, with many praising the cast but criticizing the historical accuracy, particularly the portrayal of President Reagan.[11][12] The film grossed over $176 million worldwide against a budget of $30 million.[13]

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