While not all of cinema’s commanders in chief have had to deal with impending paramilitary attacks, they do have a tendency to get in harm’s way.
Let’s take a look at a few of the top POTUS in peril flicks, plus some of Hollywood’s other memorable movie presidents. —Matt Juul/Boston.com correspondent
Pictured: Gerard Butler in a scene from “Olympus Has Fallen.” Next
Josh Brolin (left) gave one of his more memorable performances when he played the affable 43d president of the United States in Oliver Stone’s 2008 biopic “W.”
While the film, which detailed George W. Bush’s rise to the Oval Office, received mixed reviews, Brolin earned praise for his portrayal of the commander in chief and was even nominated for a best actor award by the London Film Critics Circle. Next
‘Mars Attacks!’ (1996)
Director Tim Burton’s “Mars Attacks!” may parody the science fiction B-movie genre, but it actually features a host of A-list stars, from Pierce Brosnan and Sarah Jessica Parker to Natalie Portman and Glenn Close.
However, it’s Jack Nicholson’s role as President James Dale—the comedically clueless commander in chief tasked with defending the Earth from invading Martian forces—that really steals the spotlight. Next
In a futuristic world where the average IQ barely cracks the low 20s, it’s not hard to see how Terry Crews’s President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho (yes, you read that right) got elected as the leader of the free world in Mike Judge’s 2006 science fiction satire “Idiocracy.”
Crews’s over-the-top antics as the harebrained head of state has helped turn this comedy into a cult classic. The character has remained so popular that the action star reprised his role as President Camacho in a short Funny or Die video that led up to the 2012 presidential election.
Pictured: Terry Crews at the Lacoste/GQ Super Bowl Party at The Elms Mansion in New Orleans on Feb. 2. Next
‘Hyde Park on Hudson’ (2012)
Comedian Bill Murray showed off his versatility as an actor with his charming portrayal of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 2012 biography “Hyde Park on Hudson.”
‘Monsters vs. Aliens’ (2009)
Stephen Colbert’s bid for the Oval Office fell short during the 2008 presidential election, however the popular political satirist was finally able to take over the White House, albeit in animated form, when he played President Hathaway (right) in 2009’s “Monsters vs. Aliens.”
Another dimwitted, cinematic commander in chief forced to fend off an alien invasion, unlike Jack Nicholson’s President Dale, at least Colbert’s character has a horde of humorous monsters to back him up. Next
‘Give’em Hell, Harry!’ (1975)
Acclaimed stage actor James Whitmore made Hollywood history for his portrayal of former President Harry Truman in the 1975 film "Give 'Em Hell, Harry."
The biographical one-man show became only the third film in history to have its entire credited cast nominated for an Academy Award. Whitmore won a Grammy for best spoken word recording for his role in the play turned film and also received both a Golden Globe and a Academy Award nomination for best actor. Next
Whether it’s pitting “Independence Day” star Bill Pullman against a worldwide alien invasion or forcing Danny Glover’s President Thomas Wilson (pictured) to face a natural disaster of apocalypitic proportions in “2012,” director Roland Emmerich just can’t stop putting presidents in peril.
Glover’s role as the commander in chief didn’t receive much screen time, however, he did have a memorably poignant scene during his character’s final address to the nation.
Capitalizing on the Mayan calendar hysteria about an alleged end of days in 2012, Emmerich’s 2009 thriller was a huge box office hit. It will be interesting to see if his upcoming president in peril flick “White House Down” fares as well. Next
‘The Sum of All Fears’ (2002)
From real life former commander in chief George H. W. Bush in “W.” to Martin Sheen’s fictional presidential predecessor on “The West Wing,” actor James Cromwell has played his fair share of presidents over the years.
The 73-year-old one-time Oscar nominee’s most memorable performance as commander in chief came in the 2002 action thriller “The Sum of All Fears,” where his character, President Robert Fowler, had to deal with the threat of an all-out nuclear war with Russia. The film also featured Academy Award winners Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman.
Pictured: James Cromwell at the 84th Annual Academy Awards held at the Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood on Feb. 26, 2012. Next
Legendary actor Anthony Hopkins earned an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor for his portrayal of former President John Quincy Adams in Steven Spielberg’s 1997 historical drama “Amistad.”
The film earned four Oscar nominations for its depiction of the 1839 slave revolt that took place off the coast of Cuba and the subsequent legal battles that ensued in the United States. Next
‘Young Mr. Lincoln’ (1939)
Decades before Daniel Day-Lewis swooned critics with his 2012 portrayal of the iconic Abraham Lincoln, legendary film star Henry Fonda capitivated audiences with his youthful take on honest Abe in “Young Mr. Lincoln.”
Though partly fictionalized, Fonda’s 1939 depiction of Lincoln’s humble beginnings has remained an American classic and was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2003. Next
‘The Contender’ (2000)
Determined to shake up the culture in Washington before his time in office is over, fictional President Jackson Evans (Jeff Bridges) gets more than he bargained for after scandals errupt following his nomination of Senator Laine Billings Hanson (Joan Allen) as the country’s first female vice president.
Bridge’s role as commander in chief in the 2000 political thriller earned him an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor. Next
A little more than 20 years after his first stint in a fictional Oval Office, Henry Fonda got another shot at the White House in the 1964 film “Fail-Safe.”
This commentary on Cold War-era tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union garnered rave reviews, but was a dud at the box offices. Fonda’s third and final silver screen portrayal of the POTUS came in 1979’s “Meteor,” which, unfortunately, also turned out to be a mainstream flop. Next
‘Primary Colors’ (1998)
John Travolta’s President Jack Stanton may be a made-up character in the 1998 flick “Primary Color,” however, it’s pretty easy to figure out his real life counterpart.
Between his marital issues, southern accent, and compelling oratory skills, Travolta pulls off a masterful rendition as a fictionalized version of former President Bill Clinton, which also earned the Hollywood mainstay a Golden Globe nomination for best actor in a musical or comedy. Next
‘Deep Impact’ (1998)
While most people would freak out after hearing that a meteor is about to destroy the Earth, Morgan Freeman’s President Tom Beck never loses his cool in 1998’s “Deep Impact.”
Next time there’s a giant space rock about to cause the decimation of the planet, I say we put Freeman in charge. Next
Former President Richard Nixon has been portrayed on the silver screen a myriad of times, however few have been able to really display his paranoid personality quite like Frank Langella (right) in “Frost/Nixon.”
Langella earned a ton of major nominations for his role in the 2008 drama, including an Academy Award nomination for best actor. Next
Washington is constantly portrayed as a corrupt collection of power hungry officials, which is why Kevin Kline’s Dave Kovic (center) is such a freshing cinematic commander in chief in 1993’s “Dave.”
Although Kline’s character was only supposed to be a stand-in for the actual president after he suffers a heart attack in the film, “President” Dave cuts through the red tape and actually enacts some real changes before embarking on a legitimate career in politics. Next
Before taking on the role of John Quincy Adams in “Amistad,” Anthony Hopkins (right) got his first taste of the White House in Oliver Stone's “Nixon.”
Hopkins’s portrayal of the controversial 37th president of the United States earned him an Academy Award nomination for best actor. Next
‘Gabriel Over the White House’ (1933)
After a near fatal car accident, the Hoover-like President Judson Hammond (Walter Huston, pictured) decides to completely overhaul his presidency by becoming an FDR-like, activist politician in 1933’s “Gabriel Over the White House.”
While President Hammond‘s goal was to create a more utopian society, he ends up disbanding the government, enacting martial law, and pretty much becomes a dictator. While the politics of the film are quite controversial, Huston turns in a masterful performance as the fictional commander in chief. Next
‘Independence Day’ (1996)
Before venturing to the small screen to play the fictional President Dale Dilchrist on NBC’s “1600 Penn,” Bill Pullman’s first stint as a cinematic commander in chief pitted him against a horde of invading aliens in 1996 hit “Independence Day.”
While Pullman has a knack for playing presidents on screen, don’t expect him to make a real-life bid at the White House any time soon.
Pictured: Bill Pullman at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 17 in Park City, Utah. Next
‘Dr. Strangelove’ (1964)
Writer and director Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 satirization of the nuclear scare during the early goings of the Cold War has become a classic commentary on the era’s nuclear arms race.
Petter Sellers (pictured) stars as the film’s fictional commander in chief, President Merkin Muffley, as well as the wheelchair ridden title character, Dr. Strangelove. Next
‘The American President’ (1995)
Between running a reelection campaign, losing his first wife, and raising his teenage daughter, President Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas) has a lot on his plate in the 1995 film “The American President.”
Amist all the drama, somehow, Douglas’s character is able to find the time to fall for an environmental lobbyist played by Annette Bening, which begs the question: When does this guy have time to, you know, actually govern? Next
‘Air Force One’ (1997)
While most of Hollywood’s presidents in peril need a little back up in order to take down a movie’s big villain, President James Marshall (Harrison Ford, right) just isn’t that kind of commander in chief.
Not only does Ford save a band of hostages aboard Air Force One from the clutches of Gary Oldman’s (left) evil hands, but he also delivers one of the best lines in action movie history: “Get off my plane!” Next
Many actors have played past presidents on the silver screen, however, no one has garnered more praise for their work as a cinematic commander in chief than Daniel Day-Lewis for his role in the 2012 epic “Lincoln.”
Not only did the English actor take home his record setting third Academy Award for best actor, but he also became the first person in history to win an Oscar for a portrayal of a president of the United States. Back to the beginning
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