By Charlie Schmidlin | The Playlist July 25, 2012 at 1:45PM
Just as Lee Daniels' upcoming White House drama “The Butler” takes place over the course of eight presidencies, naturally the film is going to be populated with a talented, expansive cast. It's certainly attracted an interesting bunch already, with Robin Williams and Alan Rickman inhabiting the roles of Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan, respectively, and today one more actor prepares to go presidential.
A few days after James Marsden filled in for the JFK role when Matthew McConaughey dropped out, Liev Schreiber has signed on to play the role of Lyndon B. Johnson, as well as “Shame” co-star Alex Manette as H.R. Haldeman, the top aide to Nixon (played by John Cusack). With all of these POTUS (plural) running around, Daniels must be employing a legion of make-up artists to handle the job, but another approach could be the more casual, performance-based style Oliver Stone practiced with Josh Brolin and James Cromwell in “W.”
Tackling the period of history from 1952 to 1986 through the eyes of White House butler Eugene Allen (Forest Whitaker), who saw the presidential reaction to the civil rights movement, Vietnam War, and assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy, the film's ensemble also includes Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding Jr., Terence Howard, Minka Kelly, and Alex Pettyfer. Production should be starting any day now in New Orleans, but as Liev Schreiber finds his way around that behemoth production, he'll have a much easier time in John Turturro's latest directorial effort, with its main cast of -- gasp -- only five people.
Schreiber joins Vanessa Paradis as the latest additions to Turturro's comedy “Fading Gigolo” in which the director also wrote and stars. The film, which revolves around a bookstore owner who tries to convinces his friend that prostitution is a viable way forward, is notable for many reasons, not least of which is Woody Allen's involvement in the lead role. Allen's last starring role was in the 2000 black comedy “Picking Up the Pieces,” which might be best forgotten, but a better example of his talent away from his own films, look no further than “The Front” from 1976. Turturro is an ideal collaborator for Allen to work with, and with a cast that includes Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara, it's a production that's definitely worth paying attention to as it nears an October start date. [Variety/Deadline]