5 Great Film Portrayals of Real U.S. Presidents

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Lincoln

Source: 20th Century Fox

We would like to highlight five exceptional film portrayals of real U.S. presidents. Sorry, Bill Pullman and Morgan Freeman fans, the real president stipulation disqualifies Pullman’s stint as President Whitmore in Independence Day and Freeman’s admittedly awesome portrayal of President Beck in Deep Impact.

Portraying a real-life person in a film is perhaps one the hardest tasks for actors to undertake. Since viewers already have a preconception of how the character being played is supposed to look and behave, actors who fail to match a real-life figure’s appearance, mannerisms, or accent tend to be harshly criticized. On the other hand, actors have to be careful that their attempt to emulate a real person doesn’t devolve into simple mimicry.

Critics can be especially harsh toward actors who dare to portray presidents or other prominent figures who are also beloved icons — just ask Naomi Watts. The Academy Award-nominated actress was savaged by critics for her portrayal of the late princess of Wales in the biopic Diana. “Despite a peroxide hair-job, she looks, sounds and acts nothing like the Princess of Wales,” wrote Mirror film critic David Edwards. “Wesley Snipes in a blonde wig would be more convincing.”

Here are five recent presidential portrayals that go above and beyond just wearing a wig and talking with a funny accent. Hail to the chief!

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