Lee Daniels’ The Butler follows the life of Cecil Gaines (played by Forest Whitaker), an African-American butler who serves in the White House under eight presidencies.
HipHollywood attended the junket for the film in New York, and found out some interesting and fun-filled facts about the cast, the director, and the real-life butler, Eugene Allen, and his wife, Helene. Here are our top 10.
10. Terrence Howard removed the cap off his tooth for the role
According to Terrence Howard, director Lee Daniels was constantly pushing the cast to be more real, often screaming during scenes. “Finally I was like, you want real, here I’m taking the crown off my tooth, ” explained Howard.
9. James Marsden only had a few days to prepare for his role as John F. Kennedy
Marsden revealed that after Daniels met him on the set while filming 2 Guns, he offered him the part and told him he’d be starting the film the following week. Thankfully, Marsden revealed he had Youtube to help him get Kennedy’s accent down, and a good wig to cover up his shaved head.
8. Mariah Carey drew from a childhood experience being spit on for her character
While discussing a scene where Yaya Alafia’s character was spit on by a white woman in the film, Mariah Carey admitted that she could relate. “That actually happened to me as a child,” said Carey during the press conference for the film. “I know people would be in shock and not really want to believe or accept that, but it did.”
7. Oprah Winfrey never said the B-word until filming ‘The Butler’
Aside from never using the N-word, Oprah revealed that she never used the B-word until filming a dinner table scene in the film. “I don’t think I’ve ever used the B-word,” admitted Lady O. “So it was kinda fun … I gotta tell ya.”
6. Cuba Gooding Jr. and Lenny Kravitz’s dirty jokes were used in the film
In the film, Cuba and Lenny’s barrage of dirty jokes were actually inspired by their conversation between takes. According to the two, who are good friends in real life, Daniels added some of their jokes into the script and even allowed them to improv during some scenes.
5. Oprah had to work with acting coach Susan Batson to get ready for the role of Gloria Gaines
Her first role in 15 years, Oprah revealed she had to work with acting coach Susan Batson, who made her cry during their first session. “I was like if I don’t play the role, it was great therapy”, said Oprah.
4. The love scene between Terrence Howard & Oprah won’t be in the film
The much talked about love scene between Terrence Howard and Oprah Winfrey won’t be in the film. Daniels revealed that he and Oprah decided to cut the scene, but it will still make it on the DVD in the deleted scenes. Howard told us either way he and Oprah definitely have chemistry and will be “lovers in a future life.”
3. Washington Post reporter Wil Haygood found real life butler, Eugene Allen, in the phone book
Writer Wil Haygood’s Washington Post story “A Butler Well Served By The Election” inspired the film. Haygood told a group of journalist at this years’ NABJ that in 2008 before Obama won the election, he was looking to interview someone who worked in the White House, and found Allen in the phone book.
2. The real life Gloria Gaines died shortly after learning Haygood was penning a book about her husbands life
Haygood also revealed that Eugene’s wife Helene was so happy that he was also penning a book about Eugene’s life. That Sunday, after meeting Helene on a Friday, she told her son about Haygood, said she was at peace that Eugene’s story was finally being told, and went upstairs to bed where she ultimately passed in her sleep.
1. Cuba Gooding Jr. was up for the role of Cecil Gaines
Cuba Gooding Jr. says he was initially considered to play leading man Cecil Gaines, and even did a screen test for the part before Forest Whitaker was cast. “But after watching the movie,” Gooding Jr. said, “I could not picture anybody else other than Forest Whitaker.”