Olive Stone's W Biopic - What and Who?

April 8, 2008

George W. Bush and Karl Rove

Most people know who Oliver Stone is (that's not him in the picture above - that's actually the real Bush). With multiple Oscars under his belt, Stone has clearly proven his mettle as a screenwriter, director and producer through such projects as Platoon, Wall Street, and Born on the Fourth of July. Even though they're from the 80s, these examples seem more memorable than most of Stone's recent work. (Plus, they're ones I watched with my dad as a kid.) And while I like Any Given Sunday and Natural Born Killers, each on their own respective level, I wonder what's happened to the guy. Alexander or World Trade Center, anyone? As of late there's been much news surrounding Stone's next lofty project - a biopic on President Bush titled W. However, the news isn't really centered on Stone targeting Bush, as much as it is the odd casting choices that continue to arise each week.

So what does this say about the famed filmmakers and his golden-years career? From what I've seen so far, I really have no interest in this film. Republican or Democrat aside, it's hard to argue that President Bush is a well-liked or respected guy at this point. So Stone's assertion that the picture will paint an objective (albeit empathetic) perspective of the 43rd President seems a bit disingenuous. "I want a fair, true portrait of the man. How did Bush go from an alcoholic bum to the most powerful figure in the world?… I'll also cover the demons in his private life, his bouts with his dad and his conversion to Christianity, which explains a lot of where he is coming from. It includes his belief that God personally chose him to be president of the United States, and his coming into his own with the stunning, preemptive attack on Iraq. It will contain surprises for Bush supporters and his detractors."

I think when it comes to Bush, it's either love or hate, and it'll be interesting to see how Stone molds this middle ground. Not that there's credibility to spare, however, in shaping this stance. Stone has been widely criticized for factual liberties he's apparently taken and historical inaccuracies with many of his films, ranging from JFK (the assassination of President Kennedy) to The Doors (Jim Morrison) to Nixon (the life of President Nixon).

This pattern seems to be bleeding into his W. project considering early reactions to the screenplay and those that have been cast to play America's leaders. The screenplay, now in its third draft, has been routed to a number of Bush biographers. The reaction seems mixed, though it's been stated that "the story contains inaccurate and over-the-top caricatures of Bush and his inner circle." You could go on and on about the minute details in the same way politicos go on and on about policy. One biographer plainly noted, "If Stone wants to portray this as an accurate accounting, he has some serious work to do."

Let's take a look at the full cast, both official and rumored, so far.

Josh Brolin as George W. Bush

Josh Brolin as George W. Bush

Brolin's awesome and can pull off Southern and leadership pretty well, but he looks nothing like Bush. Not only that, but Brolin seems a bit too smart/talented to play him. Again, not to kick up sand, but Bush has a certain aloofness to him.

Elizabeth Banks as Laura Bush

Elizabeth Banks as Laura Bush

Umm…what? I guess this was meant as flattery to the First Lady, because Elizabeth Banks is not only super hot, but is also 30 years younger than Laura Bush. How did this happen?

Ellen Burstyn as Barbara Bush

Ellen Burstyn as Barbara Bush

This is a better choice, for sure, but again, Stone is certainly prettying up the Bush family.

James Cromwell as George Bush Sr.

James Cromwell as George Bush Sr.

Cromwell is probably the single best-fitting cast member so far. He can certainly pull off fatherly/presidential leadership. He was pretty good as Prince Phillip in The Queen a few years ago.

Thandie Newton as Condoleezza Rice

Thandie Newton as Condoleezza Rice

Umm…again, what? Thandie, while a joy a watch, doesn't exude authoritative intelligence (unless, of course, she's playing Dame Vaako), and is just too hot - the Secretary of State is a might bookish - to be a believable Rice. Stone should've gotten the sliver-tongued first lady from "24," Penny Johnson, instead.

Rob Corddry as Ari Fleischer

Rob Corddry as Ari Fleischer

Just announced on April 9th via MTV - Rob Corddry will play press secretary Ari Fleischer.

Ioan Gruffudd as Tony Blair (Not 100% Official)

Ioan Gruffudd as Tony Blair

Not bad. Slim, clean-cut, eloquent and British. Seems to fit the bill.

Paul Giamatti as Karl Rove (Rumored)

Paul Giamatti as Karl Rove

This would work too. And it'd be great to see Giamatti opposite Brolin. For more information on the rumor, head to NYMag.com.

Robert Duvall as Dick Cheney (Rumored)

Robert Duvall as Dick Cheney

Surprisingly, despite the characters prominence to the administration, this character hasn't been cast yet. Rumors of Duvall taking on the role would seem to make sense for the film. For more information on the rumor, head to EW.com.

Jeffrey Wright as Colin Powell (Rumored)

Jeffrey Wright as Colin Powell

I can't think of anyone else better off the top of my head. Certainly, the visual is good, and Wright is great. For more information on the rumor, head to EW.com.

Tommy Lee Jones as Donald Rumsfeld (Rumored)

Tommy Lee Jones as Donald Rumsfeld

For more information on the Tommy Lee Jones rumor, head to Hollywood Elsewhere.

Though it's futile to hope, Stone should start by doing some work on the cast. Given that these characters are based on real-world people, you'd expect that they would at least somewhat resemble their physical counterparts. Now that you've seen his choices for the complete W. line-up, we want to hear your feedback! Are you encouraged by these casting choices?

Find more posts: Casting, Editorial, Opinions



I think this movie will be worth seeing whether it is good or bad. It will be an icon - it will be difficult to make this movie without humor!

Maryann on Apr 8, 2008


It is good to see that I am not the only person that is excited from this movie. I enjoyed World Trade Center because it wasn't full of the 'ram it down our collective throats' message Stone usually has. I think anyone who has seen a Stone film knows he is a liberal guy, but I think that with this film he is going to go a different route. The talk about the characters looking nothing like their counterparts aside, that picture of a young Bush and Karl Rove is evidence that the film's focus is not going to be totally about the tired and weary Bush we see on television almost daily. The cast looks excellent, Oliver Stone is Oliver Stone. This movie looks to be quite interesting.

John on Apr 8, 2008


This movie looks like something titled "not another biopic movie" Looks like a joke and has plenty of hot chicks!

bltzie on Apr 8, 2008


its has a great cast, but that will only carry this movie so far, for one half of the cast dont even look like the people there portraying and second not many people like Bush me personally, why the hell do we need a movie on him and his family.

Curtis on Apr 8, 2008


I actually really liked Michael Sheen as Tony Blair in The Queen. Don't know why they don't just continue to use him. It'll be pretty hard to top his performance...

Alex Billington on Apr 9, 2008


If Stone doesn't make it three hours long and full of tedious monologue like he did with Nixon I think this can turn out to be the first and only exciting thing this adminstration is responsible for. Regardless of whether you love or hate 'Dubya', the story of his life is interesting and can turn out to be an interesting film. Add to that that Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rove are very interesting characters for a movie, if they are played well: These guys make Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine or Don Corleone look like softies anyday but the difference is that they actually exist! A Grade A-Cast with names like Josh Brolin, James Cromwell, Tommy Lee Jones and Paul Giamatti (eventhough I thin Philip Seymour-Hoffmann would be better to play Rove) could really turn this no doubt dark and moody story into a very suspenseful film. Bring it on! No way Duvall would play Cheney though, he's one of the last supporters this administration has in Hollywood.

Jules on Apr 9, 2008


Damn Laura Bush looks like straight Reptilian in that photo and SOn Bush is hammered as Hell.

REAL6 on Apr 9, 2008


Oh for goodness sakes, Stone hates Bush. It's going to be a hit piece, pure and simple, and it will suck. No doubt chock a block full of left wing misconceptions and distortions, and out in time for the election. Plastic turkey, anyone?

yeahright on Apr 9, 2008


The casting of all the other roles makes me feel that this will be a Bush bashing good time. But I do agree with Curtis that this will carry the film only so far. I hope it's more in the vein of "That's My Bush". Personally I feel that the film is unneeded. Listen, the guy is stepping down leaving a bad taste in everyone's mouth about how the government runs itself on greed. Why force us relive it on film. If you do a film based on the "real" truth, that would be warranted. This is just going to be a waste of celluloid.

Scorpio on Apr 9, 2008


Stone will make it work - We need a good Bush bashing picture from a critical thinker. Stone is the guy to do it. Cast I'm not sold on, but that's open the pic debuts. Hopefully Stone

Jeffro on Apr 9, 2008


Awesome call on the casting of Penny Johnson. Good job.

Ryan on Apr 9, 2008


They will need a hell of a makeup crew on this film set.

Ryan on Apr 9, 2008


Couldn't get a more Condi looking actress than Thandie Newton??? WTF. Brolin: Perfect. They should've cast MIchael Moore as Dick Cheney. Just give him a haircut & some bleach-white hair, and he's the PERFECT caricature of our esteemed Rasputin. Speaking of the bearded one, Paul Giamotti as Rove is, as Monty Burns says: " (Twiddling fingers) PUURRRRRR--FECT."

Djo on Apr 9, 2008


Does anyone, liberal or conservative, really believe Stone is going after a "fair, true portrait of the man?" Puh-leeeaze. This movie is a horrible idea. EVERYBODY is sick of Bush at this point. Even his supporters are counting the days till he can get the hell out of Washington. Timing couldn't be worse. Who is going to go see this movie? News geeks? Dem policy wonks? That ought to be enough for it to gross, oh, two million.

gbj on Apr 9, 2008


I've said it before & I'll say it agin: Elizabeth Banks is a freaking 10 yr. younger CLONE of Parker Posey, only w/ blonde hair. If the WHOLE point of this movie was seeing that Josh Brolin got to bang Elizabeth Banks in some actor's trailer, while doing some "Mister President" & "Ms. First Lady" role-play- then ah'm all FOR it. Good on ya, Ollie. I Think of this as just like Stone's movie,"Wall Street"- but with a WHOLE CAST of Gordon Geckos. And they're running our freaking country. (Into the mud.)

Djo on Apr 9, 2008


Who is the casting director for the "W" movie?

Chris on Apr 11, 2008


It will be an interesting look into Bush’s past for sure. Take a look at the future of Bush at http://www.funwithwarcrimes.com

Tim Bartell on May 23, 2008


thandi newton is smart as hell (cambridge alum) PLUS she can drink and swear with the best of the lads. add that to her hotness which you rightly acknowledge, and we have a winning combo

olivio on Aug 19, 2008


Who is the casting director for the "W" movie?  http://www.nikedunknow.com

Haha3888 on Jun 9, 2011

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