Forest Whitaker and David Oyelowo in a scene from "Lee Daniels' The Butler"

Forest Whitaker and David Oyelowo in a scene from “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”

*“The Butler” is ultimately the story of one man’s experience in America through his unique perspective as a White House employee. But director Lee Daniels says another dimension of the story is of equal importance – the relationship between the butler and his son.

“It was a father and son love affair, which transcends race,” Daniels said of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), an African-American who served eight presidents during his 34-year run as a White House butler, and Louis Gaines (David Oyelowo), Cecil’s son.

The two men found themselves at opposite ends of the political and social struggle for black equality during the sixties and early 70s, with the younger Gaines eventually becoming a black nationalist and expressing shame over his father’s perceived complacency.

Below, Daniels explains how the father-son story that guided his process throughout production suddenly took a back seat.  …Literally.

“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” opens Friday, Aug. 16. Watch the trailer below.

“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” opens Friday, Aug. 16. Watch the trailer below.