That’s Better: James Marsden Will Play JFK in ‘The Butler,’ Not Matthew McConaughey

James Marsden in The Butler

Make no mistake, we love us some Matthew McConaughey around these parts, but his unique brand of show-stopping performance is perhaps not so well-suited for historical dramas with large casts of characters, particularly ones that might not have the strongest of directing talent to steer them. Films like Lee Daniels‘ upcoming The Butler, set to chronicle the life story of Eugene Allen, who served as a White House butler under an incredible eight presidents and through the years 1952 to 1986.

To that end, Variety reports (via The Playlist) that James Marsden has joined the film as JFK. McConaughey had been attached to the role for only two months, but dropped out of the project just last month due to scheduling conflicts with the long-gestating The Dallas Buyer’s Club. Of course, we must also wonder if those “conflicts” have anything to do with Daniels and McConaughey’s last project, Cannes giggle factory (and home of Nicole Kidman demanding to pee on Zac Efron), The Paperboy.

The film boasts a large (and, frankly, startlingly mixed) cast that includes: Forest Whitaker as Allen, Aml Ameen as a younger Allen, Oprah Winfrey as his wife, David Oyelowo as his son, Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan, Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan, John Cusack as Richard Nixon, Robin Williams as Dwight Eisenhower, Liam Neeson as Lyndon B. Johnson, Minka Kelly as Jacqueline Kennedy, along with Cuba Gooding, Jr., Terrence Howard, Lenny Kravitz, Alex Pettyfer, Colman Dingo, and possibly Vanessa Redgrave in other roles. That’s a lot of talent to manage, and that leaves little room for assless chaps and bongo-playing; Marsden’s brand of handsome smoothie will likely fit in a bit better than whatever amazing McConaughey might have cooked up for his work in the film. Oh, but think of the outtakes we are now going to miss.

The Butler is slated to start filming in New Orleans later this month.

Kate is an entertainment and culture writer and editor living in New York City. She is also a contributing writer for,,, Vulture,,, The Dissolve, Screen Crush, New York Daily News, Mental Floss, and amNY. Her previous work can also be found at MSN Movies, Boxoffice Magazine, and She lives her life like a French movie, Steve.

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