‘Hail to the Chief’: 11 fictional American presidents

(image: Paramount)

(image: Paramount)

It’s America’s Independence Day!

And to celebrate their ‘conscious uncoupling’ with the benevolent British Empire, we’re picking out 11 of our favourite US presidents from the world of cinema.

1. The terrorist-killing President James Marshall (Harrison Ford) in Air Force One


(image: Touchstone Pictures)

A Vietnam veteran and a Medal of Honor recipient, he’s forced to exercise his ‘executive power’ when Russian terrorists hijack the most famous Jumbo jet in the world.

2. The philandering, murder-covering President Alan Richmond (Gene Hackman) in Absolute Power


(image: Warner Bros)

This wasn’t Hackman’s first time in the White House. In Superman II, he (as Lex Luthor) ends up in the Oval Office (well, kind of) when General Zod deposes the Commander-in-Chief.

3. Morgan Freeman as President Tom Beck in Deep Impact


(image: Paramount)

One of the first black presidents in mainstream American cinema, Freeman’s President Beck has the ignominy of presiding over the end of the world as we know it.

Other African-American presidents with the misfortune of ushering in the apocalypse include Danny Glover in 2012 and Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister in The Fifth Element.


4. The lovelorn President Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas) in ‘The American President’


(image: Castle Rock Entertainment)

In some ways a dry run for writer Aaron Sorkin’s landmark White House drama, the cast here includes future West Wing stars Anna Deavere Smith, Martin Sheen and Joshua Malina.


5. The alien-smashing President Thomas J Whitmore (Bill Paxton Pullman) in Independence Day


(image: 20th Century Fox)

He’s a loving father and a considerate statesman. But most importantly, he’s a veteran fighter pilot who can take the fight to alien invaders.


6. The secret book-having POTUS (Bruce Greenwood) in National Treasure: Book of Secrets


(image: Disney)

Greenwood also played President John F Kennedy in the Cuban Missile Crisis drama Thirteen Days. Plus, if they ever need an actor to play Mitt Romney, we reckon this guy would be a shoo-in.


7 & 8. The bickering former Presidents Russell Kramer and Matt Douglas (Jack Lemmon and James Garner) in My Fellow Americans 


(image: Warner Bros.)

Playing former Presidents of the United States, Lemmon and Garner go on a bungling road trip to uncover corruption in Washington DC! Despite their age, the pair of them still possess some significant charm and comedy chops.

Walter Matthau was originally slated to star with his Odd Couple and Grumpy Old Men cohort, but health issues kept the 75 year-old actor from taking the job.


9. The un-assuring President James Dale (Jack Nicholson) in Mars Attacks!


(image: Warner Bros.)

Nicholson also plays a second role in this film as the over-the-top Vegas Cowboy tycoon, Art Land.

Why did he do this? Were the two characters somewhat related? Did this add anything to this movie?

Who knows; no; and probably not.


10. The simpering President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers) in Dr Strangelove


(image: Sony Pictures)

In the film, Sellers also plays RAF Captain Mandrake as well as the title character, a former Nazi scientist. Columbia pictures financed the picture on the condition that Sellers played multiple characters, as he did in Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita and the 1959 comedy The Mouse That Roared.


11. The Brawndo-drinking President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho (Terry Crews) in Idiocracy


(image: 20th Century Fox)

In the year 2505, the human race will have evolved to become totally stupid: they only watch TV shows about people getting injured in the groin and Gatorade has completely replaced water. In this society only men with big muscles and great hair will become president. Nobody plays ‘terrifyingly hilarious’ quite like Terry Crews.


Happy Independence Day, Americans!

Related Articles