Aug. 6 - Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker are two of the many stars in the new drama. Alicia Powell reports.
An array of Hollywood's biggest stars hit the red carpet to celebrate the New York premiere of "Lee Daniels' The Butler." The all-star cast was assembled by director Lee Daniels to tell the story of Cecil Gaines, a White House butler who served eight presidents from 1952 to 1986. Gaines' character, played by Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, was loosely based on real life butler Eugene Allen. In preparing for the role, Whitaker attempted to honor all the men who worked with Allen. SOUNDBITE: Forest Whitaker, actor, saying (English): "What I was trying to channel completely was the energy of all those men who stand for that. So I was trying to meet all of them and pay respects to Eugene by doing that. Because it is inspired by, but not a biography, so I tried to put all those things together." The film is packed with the civil rights issues of the 50's and numerous stars - including Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan and Liev Schreiber who suits up as Lyndon B. Johnson. Oprah Winfrey returns to the big screen as the butler's wife and said the praise she is receiving from her peers feels good. SOUNDBITE: Oprah Winfrey, actress, saying (English): "Jane Fonda had sent me an email saying I just saw it and the greatest accomplishment is that I didn't see Oprah I saw Gloria. So to me that is the real work." During filming Daniels takes a different approach to directing, most noticeably wearing pajamas on the set. On the red carpet Whitaker joked saying he must feel awkward without his pjs. SOUNDBITE: Forest Whitaker, actor, saying (English): "I was telling him, 'Lee, you don't have to, you didn't care about it then, don't care about it now, don't pretend.'" "Lee Daniels' The Butler" opens in U.S. theaters on August 16th.