Will politics make if difficult to cast Ronald Reagan?

ronald-reaganImage Credit: David Hume Kennerly/Getty ImagesA Ronald Reagan biopic is in the works, and it’s not starring James Brolin or being directed by Oliver Stone. According to the Hollywood Reporter, marketing executive Mark Joseph has optioned the rights to two flattering Reagan biographies written by author Paul Kengor (The Crusader and God and Ronald Reagan) and intends to produce a $30 million feature. The Reporter states that the film will open with the 1981 assassination attempt on the president’s life and then tell the story of Reagan’s life through flashbacks. Interested actors must be thinking, “Okay, so what age are they looking for?” in order to cover Reagan’s boyhood, his Hollywood years, and his time as leader of the free world. Whoever gets cast might have to play as young as 20 and as old as 50 or more. So Rich Little is out.

Reagan is such a politically-sensitive figure, and CBS/Showtime’s 2003 miniseries with the liberal-leaning Brolin playing The Gipper was anathema to Reagan supporters. So the current audition process for Reagan might not only include talent and physical resemblance, but voter registration and political affiliation. Which might be a shame, because Ben Affleck, a supporter of many Democratic political candidates, wouldn’t be the worse choice to play our 40th president. He’s preternaturally boyish and disarming, not unlike the prez, and both men were underestimated as lightweights before finally achieving widespread success and acclaim. If the film’s producers make political purity part of their casting criteria, the talent pool will thin in a hurry. The Reporter‘s readers’ poll nominated Zac Efron and Star Trek‘s Chris Pine, and I’d throw James Marsden into the mix. Of course, I don’t know who these three voted for in 2008.

Who do you picture playing Ronald Reagan? Should the actor’s politics play any role in whether they get the job or not?


Comments (37 total) Add your comment
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  • tracy bluth

    Jon Hamm.

    • mrkittysmom

      Perfect!!! – really….

      • Jake

        Yes

  • darclyte

    I posted a comment and it didn’t show.

    • darclyte

      I think that politics shouldn’t have anything to do with who plays Reagan. An actor can be asked to play a cop, a lawyer, a rapist, a murderer, a hooker, a postal worker, a florist, a musician, an artist, a fireman, a drug dealer, Hitler, Ghandi, Jesus, or a drag queen. Does the actor have to have any knowledge or personal affiliation with any of those roles in order to portray them?

      • HM

        Truth

    • darclyte

      Ralph Fiennes gave an amazing performance of a sadistic Nazi guard. Does that mean that he agreed with the guy in order to portray him?

      • Kristen

        Fiennes found the humanity in that character in the one moment where he decides to not execute some of the prisoners. If you read the interviews with him he was able to build the character so that moment meant as much as possible. One moment of humanity in a life of evil. It wasn’t about the hatred it was about THAT moment.

      • darclyte

        I know all about that, but other than that “one moment” he still had to play a character that is completely against and unlike his own personal world view. That’s why someone who could be as far left as possible could play Reagan and still do an amazing job.

    • darclyte

      Regardless of the actor’s personal political views, whoever lands the role would want to give the best performance that their talent would allow.

  • Sarah

    It isn’t like they are casting the role of the *actual* presidency – why should the political affiliation of the actor be relevant? I am sure there are many democrats who could *act* republican and vice versa.

  • Mike Fulton

    A “flattering” Regan biography? I wonder if the film will cover the Iran Contra Affair, or the crack epidemic, or the collapse of the middle class, or the countless EPA scandals, or the HUD rigging scandal? Yeah…..Should be a great film!

  • Natalie

    Craig Bierko

  • Nuke

    Alec Baldwin, obviously!

  • Elizabeth

    I don’t think it will matter. It would be kind of interesting to see Charlie Sheen get his stuff together and take a swing at it.

    Yes, it shouldn’t matter what political leanings the actor has. However, we are involving the GOP, and the version this day in age would probably make Reagan roll over in his grave.

  • Jon

    I’m not the biggest Reagan fan, but did you seriously just compare Ben Affleck to him? They “underestimated” Affleck because he’s a crappy actor, and I guess his “widespread success and acclaim” was directing a mediocre movie. I would say becoming President of the United States trumps that…by a little.
    Unless this movie paints Reagan as anything other than a God among men whose policies were infallible and whose stout heart brought peace to the world, conservatives will tear it apart. Reagan is their God. They pray to him at night. It won’t be easy to satisfy them.

    • Jeff

      Jon – If you think Affleck is a crappy actor, then he’s the perfect choice for Regan during his Hollywood years. Regan was an terrible actor too. Really bad.

  • Derek

    Mike, Dont forget the AIDS scare and that he couldnt utter the word until 87

  • Kristen

    I think the time is ripe for a Reagan biopic. There are more openly conservative stars in Hollywood (Eastwood is no longer the loner) and we are nostalgic for the 80s (this is the only explanation for Wall Street 2). I would love to see someone play the part that can see Ronnie as we saw him back in the day. As much an American saint to many of my generation as Kennedy was to the previous one.

    • Rick

      Not a Saint to the middle class!

  • bort

    I imagine Jim Caviezel’s available, provided Mel didn’t leave him up there on that cross.

  • Gary

    Mark Wahlberg.

    • Julie

      Hate crimes for everyone!

  • Alli

    In our celebrity obsessed world- politics do play in to the casting of this role. It’s like the Tom Cruise effect- it’s hard to see him as anyone but Tom Cruise. They need to cast Regan very thoughtfully and it would probably help the illusion if the actor himself alluded to conservativism in the audiences mind.

  • Shanna

    Gary Sinise or Joe Mantenga. both love the military & do all they can for the troops. who better to play one of the greatest Commanders in Chiefs?

    • Zoe

      sigh…

  • Henry Warnimont

    Yes, Cruise was laughed at when it was announced he would play Lestat in Interview with the Vampire, and he subsequently MADE the movie. It should be interesting to see who gets the lead, political affiliation should play no part casting!

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