Rising Star David Henrie is Young Ronald Reagan in a Biopic About the President’s Hollywood Years

By  · Published on January 21st, 2015

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Ronald Reagan has been portrayed plenty over the decades, but this year seems to be especially hot for the actor-turned-politician. He is reportedly an actual character in the second season of the Fargo TV series, and now there’s an update on an upcoming biopic about the world leader way before becoming the President of the United States. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the movie will focus on Reagan’s early years as an actor, through his time as the head of the Screen Actors Guild.

That presumably covers the 1940s and 1950s, including his divorce from Jane Wyman and meeting and marriage to Nancy (Davis), but the actor just cast for the lead role in the movie is former Disney Channel star David Henrie (The Wizards of Waverly Place), and he’s only 25. Reagan turned 25 in 1936, a year before he even made his first film appearance in Love is On the Air.

More than aiming for a look at the future POTUS’s Hollywood life and start in politics, this biopic will focus on Reagan’s stance against communism, a position that had him and Nancy ratting out suspected reds in the film industry, first as FBI informants and then officially before the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Reagan The Movie (as it’s called in placeholder artwork on IMDb) is scripted by Howard Klausner (The Identical) from two books by Paul Kengor (who you can see prominently in the documentary 2016: Obama’s America, if interested) and will be told from the perspective of a KGB agent keeping tabs on the anti-communist Reagan. More than two years ago, Jon Voigt was set to play the Soviet spy.

Henrie, who co-stars in the upcoming Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, is also one of the main cast of another biopic about a famous figure in his early days: Walt Before Mickey. He doesn’t portray the title character, though, instead playing animator Rudolf Ising, who started out working for Walt Disney in Kansas City and later won an Oscar for The Milky Way, the first animated short to win its category that wasn’t produced by Disney.

That movie, when it opens in April, should give us a good indication of what to expect from the rising star before we see him front and center as Reagan.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.