While the movie The Butler is set against historical events, the title character and his family are fictionalized. From the moment I read Wil Haygood's article about him in the Washington Post, I was very moved by the real life of Eugene Allen. I remember Wil Haygood sharing with me his inspiration for writing his original article. On the cusp of Obama's election he sought to find an African American butler who had seen firsthand the civil rights movement from both within and outside the White House. from the Foreword.