In somewhat bizarre casting news, Matthew McConaughey and Minka Kelly have indeed been cast to play John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy in the new Lee Daniels—of Precious and The Paperboy fame—film, The Butler.
Yes. This guy.
The movie is based on a Washington Post article about Eugene Allen, a man who served as a White House butler between the years of 1952 and 1986. He served eight presidents, including the Kennedys. When asked about the film, Lee Daniels tells Screen Daily: “I connected with it because it is ultimately a father son story with a civil rights backdrop. In my lifetime there were separate water fountains, swimming pools and toilets for blacks. People forget that. This is such an exciting journey for me.”
The story certainly seems to lend itself to a possible Hollywood hit. Who wouldn’t want to get a little juicy insight into what life was like inside the White House; to get a glimpse of what our fearless leaders were like when they thought no one was looking. Where the movie seems to fail, though, before it even begins, is the bizarre and somewhat head-scratching choices in who will be playing these leaders and their wives. The star-studded cast will also include Forest Whitaker as Eugene Allen, Oprah Winfrey as his wife Helene, Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan, Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan, and John Cusack as Richard Nixon.
When I first read this article, I immediately thought that this was one of those horrible movies with Anna Faris and the girl who played Lexi Grey before she was Lexi Grey—you know, those movies that parody other movies. I mean, it’s not often when John Cusack playing Richard Nixon is not even close to being the most ridiculous casting decision in a movie.
But, alas, this is no joke. Or, well, no intentional joke.
But, I ask you, Matthew McConaughey as the 35th president of the United States? Can the bongo-playing, often-shirtless, southern-accented, rom-com leading dude who is best known for his iconic role as the ever-stoned Wooderson in Dazed and Confused even pull off a Boston Irish accent? And don’t get me started on Minka Kelly, the girl who is really only known for two things—playing Lyla Garrity on Friday Night Lights and being mistaken an awful lot for Blair Waldorf. Can she pull off the most iconic FLOTUS in the history of First Ladies?
The internet has doubts that the duo can pull this off. The jokes are already running aplenty online, of course.
Ryan Gowland on indiewire writes: “All right, all right, Ich bin ein Berliner.”
Daniel D’Addario in The New York Observer says: “but his accent is pure LBJ!”
Matthew Odam on The Austin Movie Blog writes: “Err, uh, awright, awright, awright…”
Maybe we are just expecting too much from Hollywood when it comes to our Presidents. This casting is certainly not the biggest surprise when it comes to who plays our nation’s leaders onscreen. I mean, Nick Nolte once played Thomas Jefferson, Paul Giamatti once played John Adams, Charlton Heston played Andrew Jackson, Anthony Hopkins played Richard Nixon, Kenneth Branagh played Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Randy Quaid played Lyndon Johnson. Randy Quaid. You remember him—Cousin Eddie from the National Lampoons movies. Most likely not the first person you think of when you think POTUS.
And, well, we kind of, sort of, maybe bought it when Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes played the Kennedys on the 2011 TV miniseries, right?
Apparently, Lenny Kravitz, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard have all signed on to this picture as well. Lyndon B. Johnson? Jimmy Carter? Gerald Ford?