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Springfield Native Helps Bring ‘The Butler’ to Life

ruth carter

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — “The Butler” is number one at the box office this weekend. 

It’s the story of White House butler Eugene Allen who served eight presidents over the course of 30 years, and witnessed sweeping social change during his three decades of service, and a Springfield native plays a crucial role in bringing that story to life.

There is already Oscar buzz for Lee Daniel’s “The Butler,” not only for the film and its stars, but for costume designer Ruth Carter.  

Carter has already been nominated for her costume designs on the films “Malcolm X” and “Amistad.”

Via Skype, Carter tells ABC40 that it all began in her hometown of Springfield adding, “I was an intern at Stage West and it was one of the best internships I could ever think to ever imagine having. They had apartments for us and I was trained by some of the best people I have even since experienced in the business.”

Carter has been designing costumes for movies and television for more than 25 years, but she says working on the Butler was very special. In fact, she’s already seen the movie four times.

“Each time I see a little bit something more. It’s really hard when you work on it, it’s really hard to see it in looking at your part in it. And then I think around the third time that I saw it, I started to really listen and look at everything and I enjoy it as much as the movie goer, so it’s really wonderful that people are seeing what we made,” Carter adds.

Carter not only designed costumes for the stars of “The Butler,” but for all of the extras too. Hundreds of people came in every day on location in New Orleans for their fittings.

“Everyone that you see in “The Butler” is a player in telling the story and Lee Daniels made sure that every day on the set that he had an announcement that he made to the background. He said, ‘You are as important to the telling of this story as my principal actors,’” says Carter.

Carter feels that “The Butler” is a film young people should see to give them a greater appreciation of the struggles their parents and grandparents endured. She adds, “I think we have to encourage our youth to go see this picture, because it’s meaningful. I think it will stay around for a long time.”

And as far as an Academy Award for her work on the Butler, Carter says, “I didn’t think about it and I was told that a long time ago when I did Malcolm X. Spike Lee said, don’t think about an Oscar, think about doing a good job. So that’s what I thought about, doing a good and honest job.”

Carter’s family still lives in Springfield. She says she gets back home at least twice every year.