A Ronald Reagan Biopic is Coming to Theaters Late Next Year
by Ethan Anderton
September 8, 2010
Ronald Reagan?! The actor?! Following in the cinematic footsteps of previous U.S. presidents like Richard Nixon and George W. Bush, THR reports actor turned politician Ronald Reagan will be the subject of an upcoming biopic with an eye for a release late in 2011. Though no director or actors are currently attached, the film already has a script from writer Jonas McCord taking cues from both The Crusader and God and Ronald Reagan, two biographies from author Paul Kengor. Though it won't exactly be a glorification of the life of the Republican president, it also won't be as full of disdain as the 2003 mini-series "The Reagans."
Rather than following a linear life story, the movie will begin with the 1981 assassination attempt and tells Reagan's story through flashbacks and flash-forwards. Hopefully viewers won't be disappointed when its discovered that the Reagan presidency was actually a sort of purgatory where all the members of the Reagan family decided to reunite after succumbing to a plane crash on a desert island. But in all seriousness, the story seems to come from a very unlikely screenwriter, as McCord wasn't actually the biggest fan of Reagan. The writer explains: "I was of the opinion that at best he was a bad actor and at worst a clown."
Doesn't sound like the most respectful view of Reagan, but apparently Reagan's coming-of-age is what truly ended up fascinating McCord. He calls Reagan's upbringing "a surreal Norman Rockwell painting with his alcoholic Catholic father, devout Christian mother, Catholic brother and ever-changing boarders the family took in." Meanwhile producer Mark Joseph (who previously worked on Ray and The Passion of the Christ) has a passion for the biopic. Joseph says: "This is a great story. I'm just glad no one else in Hollywood thinks so, or they'd have made this film by now… I watched Americans line up and wait for 10 hours for the simple privilege of passing by his closed casket. They love this man." He'll work alongside X-Men's Ralph Winter.
The real question is who has the chops to bring Ronald Reagan to life? THR has a poll going that includes younger actors like Zac Efron, Andrew Garfield, James Franco, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and and Chris Pine. While I think Franco is the finest choice out of the options (he nailed James Dean in the made-for-TV film about the late actor), I'd toss Paul Dano and Emile Hirsch into the candidate list. Both have phenomenal dramatic chops and it would be great to see either of them disappear into a character like Ronald Reagan. Hopefully we'll get some more talent in front of and behind the camera soon. Who should play Reagan?