The President That Never Was

Josiah Bartlett at the top of the list?
Josiah Bartlett at the top of the list?

Which fictional president from your favorite movie or television show would you vote for?  We’re about a week left until the nation chooses either a African-American as president or a female as vice-president for the first time in history.  That’s something we’re actually accustomed to seeing on screen.  So in honor of our historic moment, here’s a nice tongue and cheek way of looking at the so called “leader of the free world.”  Who is your favorite?

Several actors, some to include some of the best actors (and actresses) have graced performances of playing the President of the United States.  Dozens of movies have had a part of a fictional president nearly since the start of the film era.  Many times directors, producers, etc look to cast the best actor to play president, specifically when its in a lead role.  But many other times they look to cast someone who would be able to look presidential and fill the mold.  To decide which one of them did the best job, that might depend on the type of genre you pick. 

Presidents in a comedic role are always fun.  Their easy to like primarily because the movie they’re portrayed in are funny and light-hearted.  President James Dale (Jack Nicholson) from Mars Attacks and President Harris (Leslie Nielsen) in the Scary Movie series had great roles in their movies.  But as for the funniest fictional president, just a notch above Lloyd Bridges’ Tug Benson in Hot Shots! Part Deux I’m going to have to go with President Mays Gilliam (Chris Rock) in Head of State.  It’s a movie written specifically for Rock as president meant to be funny, which all adds up to the top of the heap.

The action-packed presidency role hands down has to go with President James Marshall from Air Force One.  Bill Pullman did a good job as well as the alien fighting Thomas Whitmore in Independence Day, but there’s something about a president that takes fighting terrorist in his own hands, literally.

There’s a hail of presidents that have been in dramatic roles.  One of my personal favorites is President William Mitchell from Dave.  There’s also John Travolta of Primary Colors, Ronny Cox in both Murder at 1600 and Captain America, Mark Harmon in Chasing Liberty, William Hurt in Vantage Point, and Billy Bob Thorton in Love Actually.  Other actors include Sam Waterson, Jeff Bridges, Gene Hackman, and many others make it hard to pick just one.  Generally considered to be at the top of the list by many are President Andrew Shephard (Michael Douglas) from The American President and the West Wing‘s Josiah Bartlett (Martin Sheen).  Douglas had an excellent performance, but some say he took advantage of a good script.  Meanwhile Josiah Bartlett, made famous by seven years on television, was extremely popular with the public being fair, balanced, and well liked.  Hard to find fault. 

Maybe President Palmer?
Maybe President Palmer?

On a side note, since this is a historic election we have on our hands, lets take a look at which presidents have already set their own historic president.  A number of people have played either an African-American president or a female president, one of those options we could be looking at soon.  Gina Davis’ Mackenzie Allen from Commander in Chief  was a big hit among many in the television realm with ABC, but Fox on the other hand has seemingly been making it a point to feature female presidents, and two of their hit shows Prison Break and 24 are both seeing females in the highest position in the country.  But speaking of Fox, they may have the best candidate of any genre, race, or gender.  Black presidents are not unheard of, we’ve been seeing them for years in fictional work with people like James Earl Jones, Morgan Freeman, and even Sammy Davis Jr, but one black president stands above them all.  President David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) from 24 has created an excitement among many fans and followers.  There been a few articles making comparisons between him and perhaps our very own first African-American president Barack Obama.  But the widely popular President Palmer is still being told how much he was loved and how he should run for president himself.

Not for nothin’, but there is one actor that stands out above all others, simply because he’s played the presidential role several times throughout his career.  Whether coincidental or not, James Cromwell has been cast in the role five different times, more than anyone else.  Even if its hard to believe he could be the best in that position, someone must have thought differently.  That doesn’t mean he’ll get my vote, but the filmmakers who have voted, already voted him in.

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