At the Aug. 5 Gotham premiere of “Lee Daniels‘ The Butler” at the Ziegfeld, the cast and filmmakers took a trip down the red carpet and back to high school history class to discuss – if given the chance – which POTUS they would want to meet and why.
“Lincoln, hands down,” said David Oleyowo without hesitation. “To be in the middle of a civil war — when your own country is basically fighting itself, I can’t imagine how difficult that would have been.”
Others picked politicians based on personality and policy.
“I think I would love to meet LBJ,” said “The Butler’s” scribe, Danny Strong. “He was so charismatic, a little bit off, had this huge heart and an iron will, and a larger than life personality.”
Actor Jesse Williams agreed, adding, “LBJ would be really interesting because of the amount of legislation that he passed in a very difficult time, with a lot of very polarizing figures in the political arena and large issues around civil rights and social justice.”
Lyndon B. Johnson wasn’t the only popular acronym on the red carpet.
“I would want to meet John F. Kennedy because I think what he did with American policies was phenomenal — and I think he was a sharp, snappy dresser,” said Colman Domingo, with a laugh.
Actress Yaya Alafia agreed. “If I were to just to meet and greet and mingle, I would choose JFK,” she said. However, if she had a chance to sway a past head of state, she said she would pick Reagan or Nixon.
Producer Pam Williams would also want to meet Tricky Dick – just not the actual former president, but the one from the film: “If I could meet John Cusack’s Nixon on the couch when he and Cecil [Forest Whitaker] are talking,” she said, referring to a scene in the film about the Watergate scandal. “I’d love to meet him in that moment and just ask what was going through his head.”
Harvey Weinstein’s wife, Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman, said she couldn’t choose just one. However, she also couldn’t resist the urge the name drop and declared, “Barack Obama is amazing and I’m thrilled to have met him.”
Domingo agreed. “I’m glad that I’m alive to see Obama elected as president — and I look forward to being around when Hillary Clinton is elected president,” he added, cheekily. “It’s about time we had a woman in the White House, don’t you think?”
What about co-star Oprah Winfrey? “I think she’s the queen of the universe,” said Nelsan Ellis.