The 2017 biographical drama "LBJ" starred Woody Harrelson as former President Lyndon B. Johnson. Set in the early 1960s, the film explores the perilous time in the leader's life when he was asked to serve as vice president under John F. Kennedy, followed by his designation as president after JFK's assassination in 1963. Keep reading to see which other actors have starred as leaders of the free world.
Love or hate either of them, Alec Baldwin's satirical portrayal of Donald Trump on "Saturday Night Live" has been hailed as the "most important performance on television." Beginning during the dramatic 2016 presidential election, Alec impersonated the contentious candidate and continued to do so after Donald took office in 2017. Just two weeks after winning a Primetime Emmy for his work, Alec returned to "SNL" for Season 43 in a hilarious skit playing Donald talking to some of his key cabinet members.
In 2012, British-Irish actor Daniel Day-Lewis starred as former President Abraham Lincoln in "Lincoln"—a riveting biopic covering the last four months of the slain president's life. The performance earned Daniel numerous awards, including an Oscar, a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Golden Globe. Fun fact: Another Irish actor, Liam Neeson, was initially cast in the role but dropped out after realizing during a table read that he simply wasn't right for the part.
One of the many actors to star as a U.S. leader in the 2013 drama "The Butler" was James Marsden, who played President John F. Kennedy, with Minka Kelly playing his wife, Jackie. The story is told through the lens of butler Cecil Gaines (played by Forest Whitaker), who spent 34 years working for eight different presidents in the White House.
In 2008, actor Josh Brolin starred as George W. Bush in the biographical drama "W." While rumors circulated that former President Bush actually liked the film about his rise to the presidency, his brother Jeb Bush reported said the movie was "hooey."
In the gripping 1997 film "Amistad," Anthony Hopkins played former President John Quincy Adams. The film takes place in 1839, 10 years after President Adams' term in the White House had ended, during a time when he was elected to the House of Representatives and used his experience as a lawyer to help abolish slavery.
In 2012, comedic actor Bill Murray starred as President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the biographical dramedy "Hyde Park on Hudson." The film takes place in 1939 when FDR was involved in a love affair with his cousin, Margaret "Daisy" Suckley, while having to entertain the king and queen of England.
Another famous face to show up in 2013's "The Butler" was Robin Williams. In one of the most subdued performances of his lifetime, Robin played President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who served in the White House from 1953 to 1961.
Although the 2016 biographical drama "Southside With You" takes place in 1989—long before Barack Obama became the first African-American president of the United States—the story is a heartwarming look at the early relationship between him and his future wife, Michelle Obama. The film stars Tika Sumpter as Michelle and Parker Sawyers as young Barack.
Gary Sinise starred as President Harry S. Truman in the Emmy-winning HBO original film "Truman." The story highlights President Truman's rise from small-town farm hand to leader of the nation following the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945. It also takes viewers through WWII where he made the life-altering decision to drop nuclear bombs on Japan.
Greg Kinnear played President John F. Kennedy in the 2011 eight-part biographical miniseries "The Kennedys," co-starring Katie Holmes as Jackie Kennedy. The Emmy-winning miniseries took a more personal look at the lives of the most famous (and infamous) family to ever serve in the White House during some of the most critical moments in our nation's history.
All right, maybe the 2012 movie "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" starring Benjamin Walker as the aforementioned president isn't a true story, but we're keeping an open mind here. The action-packed horror flick twists history on its head by making honest Abe an old-timey, dude version of Buffy Summers ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer"). He still has time to run the country and abolish slavery! It could've totally happened that way.
Nick Nolte starred as founding father and author of the American constitution Thomas Jefferson in the 1995 film "Jefferson in Paris." The film takes place several years before his presidency during a time when he served as the American ambassador to France and was rumored to have had an illicit love affair with his 15-year-old slave, Sally Hemings (played by Thandie Newton).
Film and theater star Liev Schreiber joined the cast of the 2013 biopic "The Butler" as the brusque and at times cruel Lyndon B. Johnson, who first served as vice president under John F. Kennedy and later assumed the role of president after JFK's assassination.
Dennis Quaid starred as President Bill Clinton in the 2010 biographical drama "The Special Relationship." The film centers on the alliance between U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair (played by Michael Sheen) and President Clinton in the mid-'90s.
Legendary actor Frank Langella took on the role of former President Richard Nixon in the 2008 biographical drama "Frost/Nixon." The film takes place three years after the infamous Watergate scandal led to Nixon's resignation, when he took part in a confession-style interview with media personality and journalist David Frost (played by Michael Sheen).
In the 1997 historical drama "Amistad," Nigel Hawthorne (center) starred as Martin Van Buren, the eighth president of the United States. In the film, President Van Buren was against freeing the slaves who rebelled while in transit from Africa to America for fear he would lose powerful Southern votes that would ensure his re-election.
In 2001, actor Jon Voight starred as wheelchair-bound President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the romantic, inspired-by-history drama "Pearl Harbor." Who didn't get chills when the president, after telling his staff that American forces had to strike back (and being told "it can't be done") kicked back his wheelchair and pulled himself up on both feet before saying, "Don't tell me what can't be done."
The 2013 film "The Butler" spanned three decades (from 1957 to 1991) and featured a wide cast of presidents, including Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan and Jane Fonda as his first lady, Nancy Reagan. Alan managed to capture the essence of President Reagan with finesse and a touch of grandeur.
The only actor to appear twice on our list as two separate presidents is Anthony Hopkins, who in 1995 transformed himself into Richard Nixon for the movie "Nixon." The biographical film follows the beleaguered president throughout his early political career and ascension to the White House, which ultimately ended in one of the biggest scandals the nation had ever witnessed.
In 2008, actor James Cromwell portrayed former President George H. W. Bush in the biographical drama "W." The film focused on how his son, George W. Bush (played by Josh Brolin), rose from privileged party boy to president of the United States. Interestingly, James also played the role of a fictional U.S. president in 2004 on "The West Wing."
Bryan Cranston took on the role of cantankerous President Lyndon B. Johnson in the HBO original movie "All the Way." The film is based on the year following President John. F. Kennedy's assassination and how President Johnson worked with civil rights leaders (like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., portrayed by Anthony Mackie) to pass legislation that would ensure equality for every American.
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