Slaves v stars

ROLE: Forest Whitaker stars as a White House employee serving eight presidents in The Butler.

Slavery is a nightmare.

For most of us, it's impossible to even imagine what it's like to be owned, which is why we have Hollywood to imagine it for us.

From the wild potboiler Django Unchained to the sober- minded opus The Butler, Hollywood has tsked-tsked and tut-tutted at the horrors of slavery while raking in cash and kudos.

It's important to remember that slavery is THE WORST, but we should also keep in mind that the dudes playing slaves in these movies make more in a year than most earn in a lifetime.

JASON JOHNSON compares and contrasts the pampered millionaire thespians to the brutalised peons they play.

THE BUTLERĀ (Showing Now)

The slave: Cecil Gaines

Born a slave, Gaines' mother was raped and his father murdered by a slave owner.

Despite these setbacks, he manages to improve his lot, eventually becoming a White House butler and serving eight presidents.

His somewhat rocky marriage to the homely Gloria (Oprah Winfrey, above, with Forest Whitaker) produces two sons - one goes to war in Vietnam, the other fights for black rights.

The actor: Forest Whitaker

The 52-year-old was raised in sunny California by middle-class parents. He went to college on a football scholarship.

His acting career spans three decades, during which time he's appeared in such notable pictures as Platoon, Ghost Dog and The Last King Of Scotland.

12 YEARS A SLAVEĀ (Dec 19)

The slave: Solomon Northup

Northup, a musician from upstate New York, endures 12 years of untold hardship after he is drugged, abducted and sold to a ruthless plantation owner.

The actor: Chiwetel ejiofor

The handsome 36-year-old was born in London and attended the London Academy of Music And Dramatic Arts.

In his teens, he was spotted by Hollywood bigwig Steven Spielberg, who cast him in the slavery epic Amistad. His diverse career has included the indie comedy Kinky Boots and actioner Salt.

DJANGO UNCHAINEDĀ (2012)

The slave: Django

A slave all his life, Django breaks free with the help of a sympathetic assassin to rescue his wife from her demented owner.

The actor: Jamie Foxx

He was adopted and raised by his mother's adoptive parents. The US actor, 45, excelled in school and sports, and became a huge star in TV, music and movies.

He won an Oscar for Ray and appeared in Any Given Sunday, Miami Vice and White House Down.

AMISTAD (1997)

The slave: Cinque

On the way from Africa to America, he leads a slave rebellion and takes over the ship. He ends up captured and put on trial.

The actor: Djimon Hounsou

Born in Africa, this super-hunky 49-year-old was a male model before breaking into acting. He's played a slave not only in Amistad, but also Gladiator and The Tempest.

GLADIATOR (2000)

The slave: Maximus

Yes, loads and loads of white people have been slaves too! Maximus is a general who becomes a gladiator (fighting slave) after the Emperor's crazy son kills his family.

The actor: Russell Crowe

At his peak, the 49-year-old New Zealand- born Australian actor was the biggest movie star in the world. Films such as LA Confidential, A Beautiful Mind and American Gangster secured his place in the Hollywood firmament.

Gladiator, for which he won an Oscar, became Crowe's signature role.

He dated fashion mogul/reality TV personality Kimora Lee Simmons for five years before splitting, and the pair have one son.

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