Here is something astonishing and frankly sort of nuts: Minka Kelly, best known for her role as a Christian cheerleader on Friday Night Lights/Derek Jeter’s IRL girlfriend, is playing Jackie Kennedy in The Butler, an upcoming biopic about a White House butler (It’s The Help meets West Wing!). And who’s playing her husband? Matthew McConaughey, who we usually see in states of undress or hamming it up as a singular sort of dope. They’ll surely be photogenic enough. But can director Lee Daniels, who made Precious, wring a worthwhile performance out of them? There’s a long list of quality actors who’ve done justice to JFK’s accent and personable demeanor: Martin Sheen, Greg Kinnear and Bruce Greenwood, among others. Kelly has less of a tradition to fit into for Jackie, but she seems too infinitely youthful to play the demure, reserved former First Lady.
The Butler‘s premise is winsome enough: It tells the story of Eugene Allen, who served as butler to eight presidents over a period of 34 years. Forest Whitaker will play Allen, and he’s about as good of an actor as there is today, even if his recent projects haven’t lived up to his talent. The rest of the announced period casting is—interesting: Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan, Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan, and John Cusack as Richard Nixon. Maybe it’s because those actors are so familiar in other incarnations, but there’s something slightly off about the idea of Lloyd Dobler as Tricky Dick. Cuba Gooding Jr., Oprah Winfrey, and Terrence Howard also round out the cast, which means Oscar accolades can’t be far behind. It’s scheduled for a late 2013 release.