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Much of the buzz around Mariah Carey lately has revolved around her decision to sign on to American Idol as a judge for season 12. But before that gears up, she'll be prepping for her return to the big screen in Lee Daniels's ambitious historical drama The Butler.

Inspired by the true story of African-American White House butler Eugene Allen, the film follows the evolution of our nation over the course of eight presidencies through the eyes of the man who waited on each of its Commanders-in-Chief. Forest Whitaker, who previously won an Oscar for bringing horrid history to life with The Last King of Scotland, will take on the lead. For his supporting cast, Daniels has been collecting scads of noteworthy actors to play presidents and First Ladies, from John Cusack as Richard Nixon, to Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan, and Minka Kelly as Jackie Kennedy. Black Film reports Carey has committed to join this sprawling ensemble, though it's unknown what role—or historical figure—she might portray.

Just a few years ago Carey's inclusion in a cast like this would have been summarily scoffed at, but that was before Daniels convinced her to shed her glamorous image and play a stern but dedicated social worker in his heart-wrenching drama Precious. Her work in the film drew critical praise, yet The Butler is the first film she's signed on to since. With such an expansive time span to cover, and her last minute addition to the cast, it is unlikely Carey's role will be much more than a small supporting part. Still, she's proved compelling under Daniel's direction before. All that remains is to see which First Lady she might be slated to play.

The Butler is now in production in New Orleans.

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