To be a president is one of the most important jobs in the world. The position comes with a ton of pressure, power, and responsibility. Not only does a president serve an entire country, but they become a symbol of that country to other nations. With so much authority put into one person, a president is often a character portrayed in movies. Some movies are made with actors playing real presidents such as Josh Brolin as George W. Bush in W. (2008) or Bill Murray as Franklin D. Roosevelt in Hyde Park on Hudson (2012). Other movies decide to take the route of an original character, a president of fiction.
Fictional presidents are worth reflecting upon, as they show what the mind conceives as someone who could come upon the position for better or worse. It leaves more to the imagination, and the imagination often reveals the truth as to shared hopes, dreams, and anxieties.
10 Andrew Shepard From The American President (1995)
This romantic comedy drama follows the love story between fictional Democratic President and widower Andrew Shepard with an environmental lobbyist, Sydney Ellen Wade. Fans of the show, The West Wing, may be interested to know that this movie was a major influence.
Like many other presidents portrayed in film, Andrew Shepard shines the most in The American President during his final speech. One of the notable quotes from his speech include, “I can tell you without hesitation: Being President of this country is entirely about character.”
9 Merkin Muffley From Dr. Strangelove (1964)
Dr. Strangelove was one of the first of 25 films to enter the National Film Registry for its cultural significance. It is a black comedy that pokes fun at the fears during the Cold War of the possibility of nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union.
President Muffley, acted by Peter Sellers, is a protagonist in this film. He is the voice of reason among this staff and is one of the characters portrayed more seriously (though he still has a lot of comedic moments). The character is beloved not just for being in one of the best comedy movies, but for his determination despite his timid personality. One of his most famous lines include, “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!”
8 Thomas J. Whitmore From Independence Day (1996)
Who does the world look to amidst an alien invasion? The President of the United States, of course! This epic science fiction movie was part of a big resurgence of science fiction disaster films in the 90s.
President Whitmore, acted by Bill Pullman, got the job of calming his nation down as they launch an attack against extraterrestrials. He does a great job too, pointing out that for once all the people are united against a common enemy. Not only does Whitmore have an inspiring speech, but he also leads the attack himself.
7 James Dale From Mars Attacks (1996)
Directed by Tim Burton, Mars Attacks is a little similar to Independence Day as it involves an alien invasion. Another similarity is that it has another fictional president: James Dale. However, Dale serves as far less inspirational in comparison to Whitmore. He is ultimately killed by the Martian leader after begging for his own life.
The best presidents in film are not necessarily good presidents though. Dale was played by Jack Nicholson, who did a great job portraying his president who was open-minded enough to seek out befriending the Martians before pulling out the weapons.
6 Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho From Idiocracy (2006)
This science-fiction comedy takes place 500 years in the future, where the world is a dystopia ruled by commercialism and anti-intellectualism. Terry Crews plays the President of this crazy world with an even crazier name: Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho.
While an obviously terrible president, Camacho was a hilarious character. He enters a room with as much fanfare as a pro-wrestler and dresses like a man who ran through the 4th of July section of a Walmart or Target store.
5 James Marshall From Air Force One (1997)
Harrison Ford plays this president character in a political action thriller about retaking control of Air Force One from terrorists who have hijacked it. Ford won a Bambi Award for this role in the movie, and the film even got a novelization in the same year that it was released.
President James Marshall is loved for being a fighter. He is no Batman, but he definitely gets more action than the presidents of reality often do. Some of his badass quotes include, “We will never negotiate. We will no longer tolerate and we will no longer be afraid. It’s your turn to be afraid” as well as “The dead remember our indifference; the dead remember our silence.”
4 Dave Kovic From Dave (1993)
Dave is a little bit more complicated than other fictional presidents, as he didn’t come upon the job in the natural sense. In the political comedy, he is actually a man impersonating the president while the president is in a coma.
The comedy of the film is not too predictable though, as Dave is not an idiot. In fact, his normal job is to help others get jobs. Instead of wishing to run away from the job of impersonating the president, he hopes to actually make a good difference.
3 Tom Beck From Deep Impact (1998)
Another title in the line-up of 90s science fiction disaster films, Deep Impact is about a large comet hitting the Earth. The fictional president who has to deal with this is Tom Beck, played by Morgan Freeman.
Morgan Freeman may be an actor, but he has a striking method of portraying authority figures such as presidents and even God in multiple films. Knowing Freeman’s brand of performances, many audiences already know President Tom Beck. He is calm, charismatic, and carrying with him a graceful inner strength in the face of disaster.
2 Allen Trumbull From Angel Has Fallen (2019)
Stepping out of the 90s, this movie is part of the The Fallen film series which also includes Olympus has Fallen and London has Fallen. The fictional president, once against portrayed by Morgan Freeman, is not the main character but still a major one.
Like his role as Tom Beck in Deep Impact, Freeman is on his brand in this movie. Audiences and filmmakers alike just love this man being president. The only real difference in personality with his other presidential roles comes because of his older age.
1 Jack Stanton From Primary Colors (1998)
This comedy-drama was actually adapted from the novel, Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics, which was about Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign. However, Bill Clinton is not in the movie. Instead, fans get fictional President Jack Stanton. Truthfully, the story is more about his journey to becoming president rather than his job as president.
While the movie was a box office bomb, it won awards from the Screen Actors Guild Awards as well as British Academy Film Awards. Stanton is a character of charm, humor, and a great ability to make friends with nearly anyone.
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