The release of this week’s Big Game sees the return of America’s quintessential clean-cut hero, Mr. Commander-in-Chief himself, the President of the United States. To date, there have been 139 fictional US Presidents to appear on the big screen. Here are some of our favourites:
8. President Harris – Leslie Nielsen in Scary Movie 3
In 2003, the great Leslie Nielsen took his turn in the Oval Office. His take on the President was slightly different to others on this list, but no less memorable. President Harris seems blissfully unconcerned about the alien invasion occurring around him. Take this scene, for example, in which the President is informed of unfolding events – ring any bells?
7. The President – Billy Bob Thornton in Love Actually
In what is the closest Richard Curtis has ever got to political satire, Billy Bob Thornton sauntered into Love Actually as a less than subtle hybrid of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, attempting to bully his way into some unnamed policy shenanigans, before dialing up the sleaze with one of the Prime Minister’s aides. That’s all before Hugh Grant shows him who’s boss with some dazzling oratory. Clearly Mr. Cameron’s a fan.
6. President James Dale – Jack Nicholson in Mars Attacks!
One might imagine that a President played by Jack Nicholson would be a gun-toting, war-mongering, trigger-happy sort of leader. But that’s not the case. At numerous points throughout the Martian invasion, President Dale attempts to plough the diplomatic furrow, initially refusing to countenance the prospect of a nuclear attack on the invaders. His moment of destiny arrives when confronted face-to-face with the Martians, armed only with the power of speech. Spoilers!: It doesn’t end well.
5. President James Marshall – Harrison Ford in Air Force One
“Harrison Ford is the President of the United States” – so proclaims the poster for Air Force One, and if ever a man looked the part of a global statesman, Harrison Ford is that man. When some ruthless terrorists, led by Gary Oldman, infiltrate Air Force One, they attempt to use the First Family as leverage to release a rogue dictator. Unfortunately for Gary and co., our hero is an ex-soldier who wants everyone off his plane.
4. President Benjamin Asher – Aaron Eckhart in Olympus Has Fallen
What’s President Benjamin Asher’s biggest problem in Olympus Has Fallen? Nope, it’s not the Korean terrorists who seize the White House and take the Commander-in-Chief hostage. It’s the fact that the Speaker of the House is played by Morgan Freeman, who, as we will discover, is quite possibly the quintessential American President. How can poor old Aaron Eckhart hope to compete?
3. President Tom Beck – Morgan Freeman in Deep Impact
If we were all to sit back and imagine the ideal attributes a President should have, Morgan Freeman would surely embody a good chunk of them. President Beck is a man who’s in office in unenviable circumstances with a giant comet hurtling towards Earth. No natural disaster movie is complete without the leader of the free world appearing to deliver a calming speech of hope and endurance. Who better than Morgan, therefore, to deliver this speech explaining the fate that awaits humanity?
2. President James Sawyer – Jamie Foxx in White House Down
In the second of 2013’s White House-related disaster flicks, Jamie Foxx stars as President James Sawyer who teams up with police officer Channing Tatum to do battle with a paramilitary group. Unlike President Asher in Olympus Has Fallen, however, President Sawyer is allowed to get his hands dirty, at one point wielding a rocket launcher out of a moving vehicle.
1. President Thomas J. Whitmore – Bill Pullman in Independence Day
Seriously, what is it about fictional movie Presidents being named James or Thomas? In any case, there is no doubt in our minds that the leader of the free world we’d most like to turn to in humanity’s darkest moment goes by the name of President Thomas J. Whitmore. Why, we hear you ask? Firstly, he has great hair. Secondly, he can battle aliens in a fighter plane. Thirdly, and most importantly, he can say things like this:
A special mention should go to Stanley Anderson. Why’s that? Because he holds the distinguished honour of playing two Presidents who appear in Michael Bay films – The Rock and Armageddon. We salute you sir.
So those are our favourite movie Presidents. Have we missed any?