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Actors Playing Presidents, From FDR to Obama

Of all the movie presidents—not fictional presidents like Morgan Freeman’s President Tom Beck in Deep Impact, but rather, actors’ portrayals of real presidents—which one did his best? To help you decide, Candice Drouet put together a quick video showing actors playing presidents, including Robin Williams as Dwight D. Eisenhower, Kevin Spacey as Richard Nixon, Jon Voight as FDR, and more.


The whole showcase goes from FDR to Obama (with no Gerald Ford). There’s one other glaring omission—George W. Bush in Harold and Kumar—which is, in my opinion, better than W’s, and the most realistic portrayal of a president in film history.


Here’s the list of movie presidents in the clip:

  • Franklin D. Roosevelt - Jon Voight - Pearl Harbor
  • Harry S. Truman - Gary Sinise - Truman
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower - Robin Williams - The Butler
  • John F. Kennedy - Bruce Greenwood - Thirteen Days
  • Lyndon B. Johnson - Liev Schreiber - The Butler
  • Richard Nixon - Kevin Spacey - Elvis & Nixon
  • Jimmy Carter - Fred Travalena - An American Carol
  • Ronald Reagan - Jay Koch - Back to the Future II
  • George H. W. Bush - James Cromwell - W
  • Bill Clinton - Dennis Quaid - The Special Relationship
  • George W. Bush - Josh Brolin - W
  • Barack Obama - Parker Sawyers - Southside With You

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Voight was hideous as FDR and is a puzzling choice (except that I guess this all had to be done with HD sources), although some of that was Pearl Harbor’s screenplay.

Ralph Bellamy is widely regarded as being spot on as FDR, which he did for from Sunrise at Campobello all the way through War and Remembrance nearly 3 decades later.

Omitting Bryan Cranston’s most recent turn as LBJ is also a little odd, or at least Michael Gambon from Path to War.