Bob Dole and Bill Clinton aren’t the only ones trying to look presidential this election year. Hollywood is hitting the campaign trail too, casting a number of actors as chief executive. Here’s a look at these ersatz Oval Officers and whether they’ll make convincing Commanders-in-Chief.
Film: Independence Day, July 3
President: Bill Pullman
Agenda: Bill Pullman portrays President Whitmore, who is confronted by a horde of invading aliens.
The Character Issue: Think of Pullman as a young, feel-your-pain Clintonesque character, but one who’s also not afraid to kick a little extraterrestrial butt.
Film: First Kid, August 30
President: James Naughton
Agenda: James Naughton stars as a busy First Father who assigns a wacky Secret Service agent, played by Sinbad, to look after his mischievous son.
The Character Issue: A sensitive family man in the JFK mold, Naughton is ”handsome and dignified and he has that Kennedy look,” says Kid’s casting director, Shari Rhodes.
Film: The Shadow Conspiracy, October 18
President: Sam Waterston
Agenda: An assassin is out to get the President (Sam Waterston); racing to foil the killer is a young Oval Office adviser (Charlie Sheen).
The Character Issue: Judging from Waterston’s dead-on turn in the 1988 TV movie Gore Vidal’s Lincoln, the actor’s got the Honest Abe routine down pat.
Film: Mars Attacks!, Christmas ‘96
President: Jack Nicholson
Agenda: Jack Nicholson is the oblivious President Dale in Tim Burton’s dark comedy about a hostile takeover by flying saucers.
The Character Issue: ”It’s not a typical choice,” says a rival casting director, ”but it’s a Tim Burton movie, so it’s probably right-on in a wacko sort of way.”
Film: My Fellow Americans, Christmas ‘96
President: Dan Aykroyd
Agenda: Two bickering ex-Presidents, played by Jack Lemmon and James Garner, are forced to bury the hatchet and help new Prez Dan Aykroyd uncover a scandal at the White House.
The Character Issue: Sure, Aykroyd used to do a mean Jimmy Carter. But here he’s one of three chief executive stooges, and ”they’re too screwball to be like any real Presidents,” says Americans’ casting director, Karen Rea.
Film: Absolute Power, Spring ‘97
President: Gene Hackman
Agenda: Gene Hackman is President Richmond in this Clint Eastwood-directed thriller about the hush-hush murder of a presidential mistress.
The Character Issue: After his standout performance as a conniving politico in No Way Out, Hackman’s proved that he can play the right kind of ruthless womanizer this job requires.