What 'The Butler' Cast Hopes the Movie Imparts

What 'The Butler' Cast Hopes the Movie Imparts

In exploring the American civil rights movement, Lee Daniels' The Butler provides an education on how far the United States has come in just half a century. On Monday, ET sat down with the cast, getting their views on what they hope audiences take away from the movie.

RELATED: Oprah Says The Butler Shows Where America Has to Go

"Hopefully people walk away feeling empowered and inspired to act," said co-star Yaya Alafia.

"It's a great movie for everyone to see to be educated, re-educated and reminded [of our past]," co-star Lenny Kravitz added, pointing out that many of the younger audience members will be learning of the film's events for the first time.

The epic film charts the life and observations of Cecil Gaines, a butler (played by Forest Whitaker) serving under eight American Presidents over the course of three decades. Nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for 1985's The Color Purple, Oprah takes on the role of Gloria Gaines, the wife of the title character.

"[Oprah] is a beautiful woman," raved Terrence Howard, who filmed a love scene with Oprah that didn't make the final cut of the movie. Terrence later added, "You don't wonder why the rest of the world has fallen in love with her."

Lee Daniels' The Butler (also starring Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan, Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan, John Cusack as Richard Nixon, Robin Williams as Dwight Eisenhower, James Marsden as JFK, Minka Kelly as Jackie Kennedy and Liev Shreiber as Lyndon Johnson) opens August 16.