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Lee Daniels' The Butler (I) (2013)
"The Butler" (original title)

PG-13  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  16 August 2013 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 80,576 users   Metascore: 66/100
Reviews: 313 user | 291 critic | 47 from Metacritic.com

As Cecil Gaines serves eight presidents during his tenure as a butler at the White House, the civil rights movement, Vietnam, and other major events affect this man's life, family, and American society.



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Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 16 wins & 47 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mr. Jenkins (as John Fertitta)
White Usher


Cecil Gaines was a sharecropper's son who grew up in the 1920s as a domestic servant for the white family who casually destroyed his. Eventually striking out on his own, Cecil becomes a hotel valet of such efficiency and discreteness in the 1950s that he becomes a butler in the White House itself. There, Cecil would serve numerous US Presidents over the decades as a passive witness of history with the American Civil Rights Movement gaining momentum even as his family has troubles of its own. As his wife, Gloria, struggles with her addictions and his defiant eldest son, Louis, strives for a just world, Cecil must decide whether he should take action in his own way. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


One quiet voice can ignite a revolution


Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some violence and disturbing images, language, sexual material, thematic elements and smoking | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

16 August 2013 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Lee Daniels' The Butler  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$24,637,312 (USA) (16 August 2013)


$116,631,310 (USA) (7 February 2014)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In the original script, Cecil Gaines meets President Barack Obama. Lee Daniels considered asking the president to play himself. Since the film was shot during the height of the 2012 presidential election, Daniels decided to cast actor Orlando Eric Street in the role instead. The scene was shot but ultimately discarded, and archival footage of the real President Obama was used. See more »


During the Barack Obama campaign scenes on the porch, Cecil wears an "Organizing for America" T-shirt. "Organizing for America" was the post-inauguration Obama organization, started in 2009. During the 2008 campaign it was "Obama for America." See more »


[first lines]
Cecil Gaines: The only thing I ever knew was cotton. It was hard work.
See more »


Referenced in The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Episode #21.214 (2013) See more »


You And I Ain't Nothin' No More
Written, Produced, and Arranged by Lenny Kravitz
Performed by Gladys Knight
Courtesy of Miss Bessie Music
Gladys Knight appears Courtesy of ShakeJi, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Good Movie - Completely Not True Story - Racist after Credits
10 September 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The movie was untrue, and portrays whites in this movie to be monsters of events that never happened to the real Butler. Strictly as a professional, though, the movie was excellent with excellent acting; however, the "commercial" at the end of credits was THE MOST RACIST PILE OF CRAP that I have ever seen. First, asking blacks to vote is one thing, and the director of that affair assumes that mostly blacks will see it, so of course it is OK to ask them to get out there and vote, especially for the failing city of Detroit. But in 2013, calling whites "the Man" and referring to us as "He" and not an entire race; and how we have taken everything from the blacks of Detroit or anywhere else for that matter, is racist! We (Americans) are all out there trying to make it right now, in this ruined economy, but when it's all said and done, we are making our own future; all of us. Blacks are allowed to vote, women are allowed to vote. There should be no scapegoats anymore. There is also hateful remarks about "the Arabs" taking gas stations and other establishments (etc.) from the blacks as well, and implying the dummy is mad that they are able to "come up." I can not BELIEVE that a movie of this caliber could sit there with a message that good, and then slap that sad excuse for a pile of crap on the end of it. It made me so sick, I had to watch it to the very end, to see if it was a joke. I was again, disappointed. I am very sorry for what my white history has done to your black history. I am very sorry that people have died, and been abused, and are still being abused today, but to sit there and advocate for the plight of the black man, and then ruin it with that creepy, racist message, was appalling to say the least! I think that something should be done about this. I believe that the stupid dummy bit should be removed immediately, followed by someone losing their dang job. Come on...really? (Anger words removed for PG submission to enlarge the audience - stronger language should be substituted!)

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Why cast Oprah? AndroYoussef
The first time a white man ever stuck his neck out for us? bbb984
Why did the director put his own name in the title? Effervesce
Who else found the casting too distracting ? Dubdub1974
What was with the random Obama propganda? starcraftbw88
JFK was a pos. malcomx-42598
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