By Ryan Gowland | The Playlist July 19, 2012 at 12:17PM
It seems that Robin Williams has learned a lesson in recent years, perhaps most particularly from the critical drubbing that the 2009 comedy(?) "Old Dogs" received, and has retreated to doing more ensemble work, notably providing a voice for the "Happy Feet" movies and playing Teddy Roosevelt in the "Night at the Museum" movies. It was only ten years ago that Williams was working with director Christopher Nolan on "Insomnia," only five years removed from his Oscar-winning performance in "Good Will Hunting." For all the tepid comedies like "RV," Williams like to remind audiences that he is, in fact, a pretty damn good actor, and his resume is sprinkled with indelible performances in films like "Dead Poets Society" and "The World According to Garp," to name a few. And it looks like Williams is taking a step towards getting back to some actual "acting" as he has taken a role in director Lee Daniels' upcoming ensemble drama, "The Butler."
Williams will play former President Dwight Eisenhower in the movie, which focuses on the life of White House butler Eugene Allen, who worked for eight different administrations in his three-decades-long career. Forest Whitaker is playing Allen, with Oprah Winfrey as Allen's wife and David Oyelowo as his son. Williams joins a larger ensemble of First Families, including Alan Rickman and Jane Fonda as Ronald and Nancy Reagan, John Cusack as Richard Nixon and Minka Kelly as Jacqueline Kennedy. Clearly, there are still some holes yet to fill in the cast, which will likely get sorted out soon as shooting is supposed to start shooting later this month in New Orleans.
The actor is also set confirmed to star in the comedy "The Angriest Man in Brooklyn," which we also thought was news back when we reported it in May. Back then Williams was to co-star with Mila Kunis, Peter Dinklage, Melissa Leo and James Earl Jones in a story about a stand-in doctor who mistakenly tells an obnoxious patient that he only has 90 minutes to live and must track down the man who is now wandering around the city trying to right the wrongs of his life with the time he has left. Phil Alden Robinson ("Sneakers," "Field of Dreams") was set to direct a script from Daniel Taplitz ("Red Dog"), and that's all still true.
Williams can next be seen in the comedy "The Big Wedding" (formerly "Gently Down the Stream") from "The Bucket List" helmer Justin Zackham, which looks like it will use Williams as the "comedic relief" as the priest, but he also has the comedy-drama "Look of Love" opposite Annette Bening that looks promising, and is attached to Andy Bergman's comedy "A Film By Alan Stuart Eisner" opposite Shirley MacLaine. We're not saying that any of those roles are a lock to be considered Williams' next "Good Morning Vietnam," but they certainly look a notch above "Old Dogs."