Bill Pullman, Jack Nicholson, Gene Hackman, and more each have upcoming roles as the U.S. President

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.

Absolute Power
  • Movie
  • 121 minutes