5 Presidents Who Deserve Their Own Film

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Lincoln was an excellent portrayal of one of our nation’s most famous presidents and Daniel Day-Lewis was superb in the role, almost looking more like the 16th president than Abraham Lincoln did himself. In the wake of such a well-made presidential biopic, the question has to be raised: What other presidents deserve their own, well-made film?

For a successful presidential film, there needs to be some extensive drama with the figure and their term in office. Honest Abe had the drama, that’s why this is the second film of the year about the Great Emancipator. For that same reason, Millard Fillmore and Benjamin Harrison likely won’t be getting a film anytime soon.

But there are many more presidents than just Lincoln who have lives worthy of a quality film. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the five US Presidents that we think are best suited for the big screen.

Continue reading on the next page to see the presidents that we think deserve films…


1. George Washington

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As the first president, George Washington’s time in office shaped the presidency more than any other commander-in-chief. Washington had such great support from the citizens that they likely would have made him into almost a king if he wanted to be. Yet Washington was reluctant to take office at all, and certainly didn’t want the power that the people would have willingly given him, so he stepped out of office after two terms, setting the precedent that every president has stuck to, spare FDR.

Washington as a general would be just as worthy of a film as Washington the president. He was vital to the American revolution, perhaps the most vital of all the founding fathers, and that aspect of Washington definitely shouldn’t be ignored. A war movie and a presidential film would be a great combination.

The General is a Darren Aronofsky film that has been in talks for a while. It’s described as less of a conventional period biopic, and more of an Unforgiven-like tale. The title would obviously lend its self more towards his time as a general, but it would likely delve into his time in office as well. No details of any imminent production have been released however, so if the Aronofsky film falls through, someone else needs to get a Washington production underway.

A great actor to play Washington would be Michael Douglas. Throw a white wig on Douglas and he’s a spitting image of Washington. Plus, he’s already played a president before in The American President, granted a fictional one, but still, he knows his way around the oval office.

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2. Thomas Jefferson

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A much more complex figure than the high-school history books show, Thomas Jefferson is one of the most intriguing of our America’s founding fathers. He was the focus of 1995′s Jefferson In Paris, but Jefferson definitely deserves a more mainstream film that deals with his time in office.

Jefferson was said to have abhorred slavery, yet he was a slave owner himself and is rumored to have had affairs with his slaves. Maybe that was his way of working against the system of slavery, or maybe he was just a lot more messed up than people are willing to admit one of the great patriots could be. Either way it would make for an extremely dark and complex story.

Jefferson was also president during the Louisiana Purchase, which is possibly the most significant land acquisition in terms of shaping the nation into how it looks today, but the purchase was extremely controversial at the time. The issue was whether such a purchase by the president was constitutional, or if Jefferson was overstepping his limits and infringing on states’ rights. That’d be another highly controversial and dramatic event that the film could highlight.

In terms of his casting, Michael Fassbender would be an excellent Jefferson. They look similar, and Fassbender has proved he’s more than talented enough to take on an iconic historic figure such as Jefferson.

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3. James K. Polk

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James K. Polk is the least-known most-consequential president in American history, and for just that reason he deserves a movie. The president who acquired the most land for the United States? That’d be Polk. Without his administration many Americans reading this might still be under British or Mexican rule, or even in some independent country of California. If you’re from the west, and proud to be an American, you owe Polk your gratitude.

He’s also regarded as the first dark-horse candidate to win the presidency. He had just come off two defeats in the race for governor of Tennessee, and went into the Democratic convention hoping to merely secure a vide-presidential nomination. Through some clever maneuvering by his shrewd political team he was able to snag the nomination and eventually the presidency. Audiences love an underdog, and watching 19th century political teams work their magic would be highly entertaining.

Polk put heavy pressure on the British to resolve the dispute over the Oregon territory border, and that pressure almost led to another war between the two countries. The brink of war is always a highly dramatic time, and it would be excellent for the Polk film.

Polk’s casting isn’t easy, but an excellent choice would be Jason Isaacs. The resemblance is extremely close, and Isaacs’ character Lucius Malfoy had a very 19th century nobel feel about him. With an American accent and a similar, but less evil, manner Isaacs would be very believable as Polk.

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4. Theodore Roosevelt

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One of the most colorful personalities ever to grace the oval office, Teddy Roosevelt’s story would make for an excellently entertaining film.

He won a Nobel Peace Prize, was blinded in one eye during a boxing match while in office, and was shot right before giving a speech in Milwaukee, a speech he still gave! You’ve got the movie right there. But the focus doesn’t even have to be on his days in the White House. Show him in his rough-rider days, make an action movie out of it, but a historically accurate one. A presidential biopic turned cowboy movie is exactly what will send audiences to theaters in droves.

A fervent environmentalist and hunter, he was responsible for the creation of 5 national parks, 18 national monuments, and 150 national forests, Roosevelt certainly left a lasting impact on the country.

As for who could play Roosevelt, Tom Hardy would be an excellent choice. I know that he’s not American, but neither is Day-Lewis and look how that turned out. Hardy vaguely looks the part and has played diverse enough roles that taking on Teddy Roosevelt shouldn’t be too big of a challenge for him.

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5. Barack Obama

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The legacy of Barack Obama’s tenure in office is still yet to be determined, and many significant moments for the United States may still be on their way under his leadership, however, Obama will always be remembered for being the first African-American to become president.

The controversy and the journey with breaking such a significant barrier are certainly worthy of a film. A biopic about Obama would also need to feature details about his struggles with healthcare reform and inheriting the wars in the Middle East, the decisions of which have made him an extremely polarizing figure. It could also chronicle Hilary Clinton attempting to be the first woman president and the primary between those two.

In terms of casting? Well Michele Obama said she could see Will Smith playing her husband, and I don’t disagree. Smith is one of the most respected actors of our time, and is certainly worthy of taking on such a significant role. Possibly Henry Lennix or Denzel Washington could do the role justice too, but Smith is my first choice.

Alright filmmakers, it’s your turn. Make these films happen and treat America to the stories of some of its most memorable leaders.

What do you think of our list? Are you interested in these movies, or are there presidential biopics you’d rather see? Let us know in the comments section below.

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  • Anita

    You want an inspirational movie about Barack Obama? Watch MSNBC.

  • http://twitter.com/Mr_Manager0803 Justin A.

    No thanks to the Obama film, however, I would love to watch an Andrew Jackson flick. That dude was crazy!

  • http://twitter.com/mraustinbond Austin

    I want a better FDR film.