The first question that came to mind when we heard that HBO is developing a movie about the 2008 election, focusing on the principal players, was this: Is there any way not to cast Tina Fey as Sarah Palin?
HBO has just ordered a script from “Blood Diamond” writer Charles Leavitt for a film about the election, Variety reports. It will be based on a book called “Game Change” that’s due next year from veteran political journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin.
It’s the latest contemporary political flick from HBO, which had success with the 2000 election drama “Recount” and is working on “The Special Relationship,” about the dynamic between the Clintons (who will be played by Dennis Quaid and Julianne Moore) and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (Michael Sheen, who’ll be playing Blair for the third time).
Naturally, the announcement led us to put our casting hats on and confront the Fey-as-Palin issue. Fey created such an indelible image of the Alaska governor during her numerous “Saturday Night Live” appearances last fall that it’s hard to imagine anyone but her playing Palin. But we’re guessing that HBO isn’t going for a comedy here. So we’re going to turn to another recent HBO project about a president, “John Adams,” and suggest Laura Linney:
There’s only a bit of a physical resemblance, but we think Linney more than has the chops to play the ambitious Palin — who, like her or not, was one of the most compelling figures of the campaign.
As for some of the other players in the election, well, we went through some of this process last year when we cast the 2008 primaries. We’re going to stand by the casting of “Dollhouse” star Harry Lennix as Barack Obama (although if it were a comedy, this guy would be good too), and we still think Edie Falco would make an excellent Hillary Clinton. Although, given her involvement in past HBO projects (“Angels in America” and “Wit”) and the way she played the Hillary role in “Primary Colors,” Emma Thompson would also be a fine choice.
We took a bit of a flier on John McCain a year ago, based on the similarity of expression in a particular photo of Kevin Nealon. On a more serious note, we think that both Kevin Tighe and “Battlestar Galactica’s” Saul Tigh, Michael Hogan, both look enough like the Arizona senator and have the skill to pull off the role.
Michelle Obama proved to be a little tougher to cast, if only because some of the actresses we immediately thought of — Taraji P. Henson, Regina King, Angela Bassett, Kerry Washington — are a little on the small side to play the 5’10” first lady (especially given that Lennix is over 6 feet tall). So may we suggest Aisha Tyler. Her resume isn’t as showy as some of the others we considered, but she’s a smart, feisty comic who we think could capture Michelle Obama pretty well. And yes, she’s tall.