Hail to the Chief: Movie Presidents from FDR to Obama

By  · Published on August 30th, 2016

Morgan Freeman. Bill Pullman. Jack Nicholson. Kevin Kline. Michael Douglas. Martin Sheen. Harrison Ford. Jamie Foxx. Geena Davis.

That is but a very small list of the actors and actresses who have played the American President in film and television. However, none of them played actual Presidents, rather characters made up for the job. Portraying a real President is a different thing altogether, it’s a role that demands a balance of truth and respect, consideration and scrutiny.

As SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU – the first film, albeit fictional, to feature an actor playing sitting President Barrack Obama – hit theaters, editor Candice Drouet for Fandor decided to take a look at other real presidents as reimagined onscreen, and discovered that since Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office in 1933, every American President has gotten the Hollywood treatment (except Gerald Ford, who Drouet supposes correctly wasn’t interesting enough or around long enough to warrant a movie), including the one who came from Hollywood, Ronald Reagan.

In stitching these performances together, Drouet noted “that most of them focus on how each leader faced major domestic and international conflicts, making history in the process. Strangely, from most of these films, there’s little contextual information about the reasons behind the conflicts or about the deep-seated motivations for why these special individuals decided, at some point in their lives, to take the country’s destiny in their hands. The only exception is W., a film that dares to portray the personal and psychological conflicts of one of the most polarizing presidents in recent history.”

Well said, and well represented by this supercut. If you’re American, use it as a reminder to register to vote, you might have heard we got an election on the horizon.

Related Topics: , ,

Novelist, Screenwriter, Video Essayist