EXCLUSIVE: Lee Daniels talks to Screen about why he connected with The Butler and discloses that he wants Minka Kelly to play Jacqueline Kennedy.

Screen sat down with The Paperboy director Lee Daniels in Cannes last night at the film’s reception drinks.

Daniels disclosed to Screen that he has chosen Friday Night Lights star Minka Kelly for the part of Jackie Kennedy in his next feature The Butler, starring Forest Whitaker as Eugene Allen, the White House butler who served eight presidents.

“I feel humbled to be here with The Paperboy”, said Daniels, who stressed that it is a difficult but magical experience stepping from one such high profile and anticipated project to another.

Of new project The Butler, produced by Icon and being sold by IM Global, Daniels said: “I connected with it because it is ultimately a father son story with a civil rights backdrop. In my lifetime there were separate water fountains, swimming pools and toilets for blacks. People forget that. This is such an exciting journey for me.”

Daniels begins location scouting on Monday. Shoot is due to start July 16.

The film’s intriguing casting includes Whitaker as Allen, Oprah Winfrey as his wife, Mathew McConaughey as John F. Kennedy, John Cusack as Richard Nixon, Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan, Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan, and Cuba Gooding Jr, David Oyelowo, Lenny Kravitz and Terrence Howard also on board.

Danny Strong wrote the script with Daniels based on a Washington Post article by Wil Haygood.

Twitter: @andreaswiseman