Casting a Clinton Biopic

Earlier this week, PBS thrilled my inner history nerd by airing four hours of the American Experience about Bill Clinton. I’ve seen several other PBS American Experience episodes about the Presidents and loved them all. But this one worked on a different level for me. I lived through the Clinton years, and could legally vote for the first time during the Clinton era. It made me nostalgic for the 90s, and it made me a little nostalgic for the wackiness of the Clinton White House. Whether you liked him or hated him, he was a walking headline. In fact, he’d be a perfect source for a biopic. Here’s how I’d cast a movie about the Clinton years in America.

Bill Clinton
Since this is obviously the protagonist, a skilled actor is required. After all, it’s not always about how much someone looks like the character they’re portraying. A good actor can turn themselves into anyone. Fortunately, there’s an actor out there who can do a little bit of both. When HBO made The Special Relationship, they considered Philip Seymour Hoffman for the role of Clinton. And why not? Hoffman has played a sexual deviant before (Boogie Nights, Happiness), he’s a really good actor, and he even bears a mild resemblance to Clinton. He is my Slick Willie. Wait… that came out wrong.

Hillary Clinton
For Hillary, we’ll need an actress who can portray a strong, independent woman stifled by society’s expectations that the first lady should be more docile and subservient. And also, this actress should… ah, what the hell. Let’s just say Meryl Streep and call it a day.

Al Gore
Casting Gore is a bit tricky. You need an actor with some chops, who can purposefully play a wooden character. It can’t be an accidental wooden performance. So Keanu Reeves is disqualified. You need an actor good enough to carry the role, to play a wooden character in a self-aware manner, but also an actor who won’t dominate the screen. He’s the Vice President, after all. I think it’s time Gary Sinise moved on from CSI and returns to the big screen.

Robert Reich
If you watched the American Experience episodes, then you know all about Robert Reich. He was Clinton’s Secretary of Labor. He was also a spritely fellow measuring 4’10” in height. When you’re talking about 4’10” guys, there is only one choice–Warwick Davis.

George Stephanopoulos
Stephanopoulos was another short guy serving under Clinton, although this time a much more normal 5’6″. He also had a huge mop of hair and was only 31 years old when Clinton first took the oath of office. He wasn’t a major character in the Clinton White House, but he had enough of a role that you can’t punt the role to an unknown actor. Jason Schwartzman fits all of the requirements here–short, young, lots of hair, and won’t steal the movie.

Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich was the villain of the Clinton era, the Joker to Clinton’s promiscuous Batman. We’ll want someone with the chops to play a villain. We’ll also want someone who’s kind of fat, and has ruddy, well-worn facial features. The white hair is clearly optional, easily added with a wig. In other words, we want Val Kilmer.

Chelsea Clinton
There aren’t a ton of pre-teen and teen actresses floating around. Take the Fannings out of the equation and you’re almost left with nothing. Fortunately, there’s Chloe Moretz.

Janet Reno
I could rattle on and on about the role that Reno played as Clinton’s Attorney General, particularly with Waco and the Oklahoma City bombing occurring during those years. Or, I could save us all a lot of time and point out that Janet Reno looks a lot like Gary Oldman. So, Gary Oldman.

Monica Lewinsky
The actress charged with the role of Lewinsky should obviously be willing to do sexual things on screen. She should be in her 20s, and preferably brunette. My choice is Madeline Zima. Her Californication punching scene proves that she’s capable of the role. Admittedly, she’s considerably more beautiful than Lewinsky, but she’s got some of the same facial structure and makeup can take care of the rest.

Linda Tripp
I could’ve gone for the obvious punchline here the same way Saturday Night Live did when they put John Goodman in the role of Linda Tripp. I could come up with a lot of fat white guys for the role. Or I could find a real actress who… well, sort of reminds me of Linda Tripp. Rosie O’Donnell is my Linda Tripp. Although I could be talked into Lisa Lampanelli.

Socks the Cat
Don Cheadle can do everything as an actor, and I intend to let him prove it by casting him as Socks the cat. It’s clearly beneath him as an actor but I would appeal to him by pointing out the challenging nature of the role.


Filed under Humor, Movies

14 responses to “Casting a Clinton Biopic

  1. surroundedbyimbeciles

    As a Tennessean who lives one town over from where Al Gore claims to be from and who has several friends who works in his office, I believe his role would be perfect for a droid known as C-3PO.

  2. HAHAHAH Love it. Love the casting of Gary Oldman too!! I don’t know very much about many of the characters, being this side of the pond. But it was a very funny read!! thanks man

  3. **waits for someone to bring up ‘Primary Colors’**

    • The guy who met Kevin Meany

      Travolta played a great “Bill Clinton type” of character. Emma Thompson played a great “Hillary type” of character. Billy Bob Thornton played a rednect political consultant (like James Carville) and Kathy Bates played a character loosely based on Betsy Wright. After that, the similarities end. An actor doing a Clinton-impression would come off as comedic or a shitty impression. You really do need a great actor whose going to bring something else to the role. Travolta just did a Clinton-impression. He didn’t really show any acting chops. Don Cheadle is also an inspired choice for Socks the Cat. There are no small roles; only small actors.

  4. Good choices! Since I’m not American, I’m not familiar to some characters but I would read some books just to learn a little bit about those political years. A Clinton biopis seems very interesting especially with Hoffman as the former President.

  5. Dude. You nailed it. Hoffman and Streep would be perfect. Oldman and Cheadle are inspired choices as well, haha.

    • Meryl’s Agent: Meryl, we have the role of a lifetime for you. We want you to play Hillary.

      Streep: I’m in! That should earn me my 97th Oscar! Who’s playing Bill?

      Agent: Phillip Seymour Hoffman

      Streep: I’m out.

  6. rtm

    Great casting ideas, John, yeah Philip Seymour Hoffman can play anyone really. Ahahaha, Gary Oldman’s makeup as Smiley does resemble Janet Reno, though Gary’s still ‘prettier’ than even Janet in real life 🙂

    Gary Sinise is too good looking to play Gore I think, he’s got to plump up a bit to play him. Oh poor Val… he used to be sooo svelte.

  7. TheBestofAlexandra

    Love it! Except what if we have Glenn Close as Hil instead? The first half of Damages season 1 she’s very Clintonian in dress, hair, and manner. Also… Tipper Gore. Someone who can be alternately sexy and prudish. Do you think Elizabeth Banks is 90s-politician-biopic-ed out?

    • Glenn Close is always an easy (and good) sub for Streep. In fact, it took a long time in my life before I knew the difference between the two (admittedly, I hadn’t seen a ton of work from either).

      It’s too bad Loretta Swit is 30 years too old, because in her Hot Lips heyday, she would’ve made for a perfect Tipper Gore.

  8. this really got me laughing so hard. mr. john, you have quite an imagination, haha. and, you’re an authentic clinton kid, you know the whole tribe. ^^

    btw, i thought your site’s into film reviews. hmn, not bad for a casting director debut, lols! ^^ regards and cheers… 🙂

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