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4 Presidents Who Deserve Big Screen Movies

4 Presidents Who Deserve Big Screen Movies

By Beth Mishler

DreamWorks/Touchstone

Hey, Masterminds! Have you seen the new poster for Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln? To say that the resemblance star Daniel Day Lewis has to the 17th president is uncanny isn’t accurate enough—this could be art-imitating-life at its finest! So, we wondered: which other former presidents deserve the big screen treatment? Here are a few we’d like to see movies about:

Theodore Roosevelt

He was a staunch environmentalist while being the kind of hunter that makes Ted Nugent look meek. He’s responsible for the Pure Food and Drug Act, he won a Nobel peace prize, and was blinded in one eye from a boxing match—while in office. Oh, and he was shot in Milwaukee in 1912 before giving a speech—and because the bullet hit his eyeglasses case and some papers in his pocket, he went ahead and gave the speech anyway, with the bullet still lodged in his chest! That’s nuts! Also, ‘TR’ was considered to be one of the smartest presidents in history, and was said to have a photographic memory. Any dude this complex deserves to make it to the big screen. Who could play the ‘Bull Moose’? We’re thinking that if the conductor from the Polar Express is busy, Bane himself, Tom Hardy might be a good choice, especially if the flick focused on ‘TR’ in his younger years.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Other than HBO’s 2005 flick Warm Springs, starring Kenneth Branagh, there hasn’t been big or small screen coverage of this New Deal dealer (and that movie only focused on his battle with polio). This is a shame, because FDR was one of the most interesting men to ever hold office, and his first lady was pretty fascinating, as well. We think a movie that focused either on his tenure during the Great Depression or on his presidency during World War II makes the most sense, but we’d also be interested in seeing a young FDR marry Eleanor and begin his career in politics. We’re thinking Ryan Gosling's a decent choice for a younger FDR—if anyone could pull it off, it would be a chameleon like him.

Thomas Jefferson

The only feature film that focused on this popular former president was 1995’s Jefferson in Paris, which was kind of a ‘meh’ movie that didn’t quite do the complex fellow justice. He abhorred slavery while continuing to have slaves (his rumored affair with his slave Sally Hemings story was already a TV movie), and he is widely viewed as one of the most intelligent presidents in history. We think a film about his role in the Louisiana Purchase and/or a rebooted Lewis and Clark adventure could be really awesome. So who could play this iconic fellow? If you threw a wig and some wrinkles on Colin Firth, we think he could grab the ‘British actors playing American Presidents’ torch from Daniel Day-Lewis and run with it!

James A. Garfield

The last of the log cabin Presidents (i.e. presidents who were literally born in log cabins), Garfield’s term was the second shortest in history due to an assassin’s bullet. Alexander Graham Bell actually tried to remove the bullet with the new metal detector he was working on at the time, but to no avail. We think that the story of Garfield’s shooting has big screen drama all over it. He was shot by Charles Guiteau, a lawyer who began stalking and threatening the president after he was rejected for a cabinet post. After being shot, Garfield survived longer than any other assassinated president (nearly a week), and it’s been said that his death could have possibly been prevented had it not been for unsanitary doctors and caretakers. We like Tom Hanks with a Gimli-sized beard for this role.

Which presidents/president’s story would you like to see make it to the big screen?

Tags: movies, abraham lincoln, presidents, thomas jefferson, lincoln, theodore roosevelt, fdr, franklin roosevelt, american history

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About the Author
Beth Mishler

Beth Mishler is a writer, producer, and pop culture connoisseur who has a weakness for the Whedonverse and all things sci-fi. Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, Beth currently lives in The Plains, Ohio, where she freelances, makes documentaries, and watches a kazillion hours of TV per week while anxiously awaiting the release of George R.R. Martin's next novel.

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.

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