Dreamcasting the 2016 Election

Steve Carell as Ted Cruz

The 2016 election has been absolutely nuts so far. The suite of candidates has to be one of the most unlikable of all time, multiple entrants are calling for full-blown revolution, and the late night talk shows are having a field day with the colorful characters on full display in the lead up to Election Day.

While every presidential election is always a certain degree of crazy, there's no doubt that this 2016 iteration is unlike anything we've ever seen before in politics, and would be a great subject for a movie, documenting the rise and fall of the various candidates and their larger-than-life personas. Maybe within the next few years, we'll see an HBO original movie all about this most atypical of elections, and if we ever do, here's who we'd like to see in all of the lead roles.

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Meryl Streep as Hillary Clinton
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13 Meryl Streep as Hillary Clinton

Meryl Streep as Hillary Clinton
Photo via Flickr user US Embassy Kabul Afghanistan


When ex-president Bill Clinton was asked who he'd like to see play him in a movie, he jokingly suggested Brad Pitt or George Clooney. At least, we think he was joking. But when asked who would play his wife, current presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, he didn't skip a beat and immediately suggested Meryl Streep. We're inclined to agree with Bill's assessment.

Meryl is universally beloved as one of the greatest actors of all time, and when the choice exists whether or not to cast her, the correct answer is always, "cast her." Hillary Clinton is one of the premier candidates this election, and, love her or hate her, her historically-significant status as the first woman with a significant chance of winning the American Presidency commands a certain dignity and respect. Meryl has 19(!) Oscar nominations, which is pretty dignified and quite respectable, to say the least. And, having played Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, Meryl is no stranger to politically-themed dramas. She might need some extra time to work on Hillary's laugh, however. It's rather...distinct.

12 Richard Dreyfuss as Bernie Sanders

Richard Dreyfuss as Bernie Sanders
Photo via Flickr user Phil Roeder


The other front-runner for the Democratic Party is Bernie Sanders, a populist candidate who proudly identifies as a "democratic socialist." His campaign promises of breaking up the big banks and making college tuition free has resonated with a ton of people, especially millennials, the youngest demographic eligible to vote. Opponents fear him to be too far towards the left, and many, with an overwrought fear of even the word "socialism," believe him to be unelectable, despite his solid polling numbers and stellar primary results — superdelegates notwithstanding.

We believe Richard Dreyfuss would make a great Bernie. He's a prestigious actor, with two Oscar nominations and one win, for Best Actor in 1977's The Goodbye Girl. However, there is a more recent role which we think makes Dreyfuss a prime candidate to bring Bernie Sanders to life in a movie: Bernie Madoff. Madoff is pretty much the exact opposite of the senator from Vermont, and Dreyfuss played the jail-bound Ponzi Scheme mastermind in the ABC miniseries, Madoff. He has the look, he has the acting chops, and he can kvetch, so he's in as our version of Bernie Sanders, the underdog candidate.

As popular as Larry David's comedic turn as the presidential hopeful on Saturday Night Live has been, we'll be needing a bit more drama in this role than the Seinfeld creator may be able to handle.

11 Robert Duvall as Donald Trump

Robert Duvall as Donald Trump
Photo via Flickr user Gage Skidmore


With the latest news that both Ted Cruz and John Kasich have suspended their campaigns, Donald Trump is the clear Republican front-runner for the presidency. Barring any stunning twists, he will be the Republican candidate for the November elections. Trump is easily the most polarizing figure of the election, and indeed, one of the most controversial political characters of all time.

Despite being over 15 years older than Trump, we can clearly picture the great Robert Duvall taking on the role of the larger-than-life id of right-wing politics. Duvall may be 85, but Trump, at 69 (turning 70 in June), is no spring chicken himself, and is so covered in cartoon hair and unsightly spray-tan that he could pass for much older than he actually is.

Robert Duvall recently gave an Oscar-nominated performance opposite Robert Downey Jr in The Judge, and the man clearly has the talent and gravitas to capture Trump's fascinating, possibly ego-driven rise to political prominence without falling into parody, a major fear with any potential Trump-casting.

10 Giancarlo Esposito as Barack Obama

Giancarlo Esposito as Barack Obama
Photo via Flickr user Marc Nozell


After eight tough years as POTUS, Barack Obama is stepping down. While our current president has largely avoided discussing his feelings on any candidates to any great lengths, any film about his retirement and replacement would feel incomplete without a version of the man himself.  To this end, we're casting noted character actor Giancarlo Esposito, known for his roles on such varied shows as Homicide: Life on the Street, Revolution, Once Upon a Time, and Breaking Bad.

Obama is the first African-American president, which many believe led to his candidacy and subsequent election and re-election campaigns being the subject of significantly more scrutiny than any other political figure in recent history. Early on, one of the attacks against Obama's legitimacy came in the form of the "Birther" movement, a group who claimed that Obama was actually have been born in Kenya and was thus not an American citizen. This would have made him ineligible for The United States's highest office.

Among these Birthers was none other than Donald Trump, who led the call to release Obama's birth certificate and other official records. Despite all the hype and promises that Trump's private investigators had found incriminating evidence damning the president, nothing ultimately came from any of it, since the rumor was a silly and baseless conspiracy from the start...Though the whole Trump v Obama & Common Sense episode would be a great first scene to our hypothetical HBO movie.

9 Steve Carell as Ted Cruz

Steve Carell as Ted Cruz


Ted Cruz is one of the most notoriously unlikable figures in the 2016 election, and not just because of his bizarre face, which has been said to resemble a number of interesting figures, including Grandpa Munster, Mrs. Doubtfire, Michael Sweet from Stryper, and Kevin from The Office.

For our money, we'd cast fellow Office alumni Steve Carell as Ted Cruz. While Carell bares a remote resemblance to the senator from Texas, his physical appearance would necessitate some tweaking, a process the 53 year old actor is no stranger to. In 2014's Foxcatcher, Carell wore a hideous prosthetic nose to portray John Eleuthere du Pont, and was subsequently awarded with an Oscar nomination. A little more makeup magic would go a long way to help him capture Ted Cruz's unique visage. Carell's come a long way since the days when he was seen only for his comedic talent. Considering the dramatic chops he's flashed in recent years, we think he'd knock this out of the park.

8 James Woods as John Kasich

James Woods as John Kasich
Photo via Flickr user Gage Skidmore


Ohio Governor John Kasich was long seen as the stable candidate, more benign than the grandstanding Donald Trump and more likable than cold fish/wet blanket that is Ted Cruz. However, just a day after Ted Cruz's withdrawal from the race, Kasich announced that he too was bowing out of the fight and conceding victory to Trump.

James Woods seems like a nice, normal kind of guy, just like John Kasich — Woods' fondness for May-December romance notwithstanding. Who are we to judge? The heart wants what the heart wants.

Anyway, in our movie, we can see Woods's Kasich as the last-generation candidate, a man attempting to run a clean, old-fashioned campaign in the age of Trump, a showman who knows how to rile up a crowd like few before him. Kasich becomes an interesting, almost tragic, figure in our movie, which is far more dramatic than his real life status as that bland guy whose only primary win came in his home state.

7 Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Paul Ryan

Mark Paul Gossalaar as Paul Ryan
Photo via Flickr user Gage Skidmore


For a long time, it seemed as though Paul Ryan was going to be a surprise entrant into the 2016 Presidential Race. He's young by political standards (46 years old) and is often touted as being intelligent on financial matters, which could give him an edge on Trump, who is running on his public image of being a shrewd businessman. While many establishment Republicans are hoping he might somehow emerge from the ether to challenge Trump, the window has passed on a Ryan presidency this cycle, though some are still holding hope he might at least lead from behind as Trump's potential Vice President, as he had previously been up for the role of second-in-command as Mitt Romney's running mate back in 2012.

Mark-Paul Gosselaar is the perfect pick for Paul Ryan. While the erstwhile Zack Morris is a bit on the pretty side for the role, the Speaker of the House isn't so hard on the eyes either. Ryan was the subject of a story in Time magazine, in which he discussed his healthy lifestyle and intense workout regimen, courtesy of P90X, which we have no interest in learning about as it involves working out, and exercise sucks. But props to Paul Ryan, for being played by the hottest actor on our list.

6 Cuba Gooding Jr as Ben Carson

Cuba Gooding Jr as Ben Carson
Photo via Flickr user Gage Skidmore


Doctor Ben Carson was criticized for his aloof demeanor during the campaign trail, often failing to express interest, or even sentience, during debates and interviews. He seemed kind of brain dead, an especially pressing concern considering the doctor's former day job: the man was a pediatric brain surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital for nearly 30 years.

Cuba Gooding Jr is our only option to play the good doctor, since it wouldn't be his first time. In 2009, Cuba played the good doctor in a 2009 made-for-television film, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story. The film was actually quite well-received, and was considered to be an effective, if overly sappy, drama.

Indeed, Cuba's casting could lead to a Carson Cinematic Universe, or the CCU, if you will, in which Cuba Gooding Jr would portray Carson in a number of movies, as both a doctor and a political figure, leading up to a grand mash-up film, in which he would have to perform brain surgery during a joint session of Congress.

5 Jon Favreau as Chris Christie

Jon Favreau as Chris Christie
Photo via Flickr user Bob Jagendorf


Chris Christie dropped out of the race fairly early without making as big of a splash as he did in 2012, but his imposing figure and no-nonsense demeanor draw the viewer's attention. He's a compelling character, and would be right at home in our would-be movie.

Jon Favreau might not be quite as hefty as the ex-candidate, but we've seen more dramatic transformations from actors in recent years. Just look at Favreau as Happy Hogan in the Iron Man films, and it becomes easy to visualize. Depending on how things work out over the coming months, we might see a lot more of Christie, so to speak, as many speculate that he may wind up being Trump's eventual running mate and subsequent Vice President, should Trump ultimately win the race.

4 Will Ferrell as Jeb Bush

Will Ferrell as Jeb Bush
Photo via Flickr user Gage Skidmore


One of Will Ferrell's most memorable characters during his seven-year run on Saturday Night Live was his cartoonish impression of President George Bush. Though Ferrell's voice was spot-on, we always thought he looked a little more like George's younger brother, Jeb.

Jeb was an outspoken opponent of Donald Trump's brand of politics, but went from prospective front-runner to damaged washout in record time. He was unprepared for the unstoppable Trump train, and never stood a chance against its deafening and all-encompassing momentum. And in the end, his famous family name may have actually hurt him more than it helped him.

Will Ferrell was recently cast as an aging, forgetful Ronald Reagan in the upcoming comedy Reagan, but dropped out after a considerable amount of backlash in the online world. Perhaps playing Jeb in a drama could satisfy Ferrell's seemingly insatiable desire to portray famous Republican politicians across film and television.

3 Jodie Foster as Elizabeth Warren

Jodie Foster as Elizabeth Warren
Photo via Flickr user OversightandReform


Elizabeth Warren, like Paul Ryan, isn't running for President this election cycle, but many are hoping that she will take a stab at running for Vice President. Seriously, a Sanders/Warren presidency would have the big banks running for the hills! Or maybe she'll wind up as Clinton's running mate and become part of an all-female ticket, an unprecedented move in American politics.

We can see the great Jodie Foster as the idealistic, big bank-hunting Warren, flirting with the idea of running for president, and then Vice President. Ultimately, however, we have a feeling that Elizabeth will conclude that she can affect more immediate change in her current job as a United States Senator. Warren, as played by the highly underrated 2 time Oscar winner, will believe that, just like in Wargames, the only way to truly win is to simply not play.

2 John Travolta as Bill Clinton

Photo via Flickr user Eric Austin


If Hillary becomes the Democratic candidate and goes on to win the presidency, then Bill Clinton will be making a return trip to The White House. As many readers surely know, Bill Clinton served two terms as President of the United States. If Hillary becomes the first female President, then Bill will become the first male First Lady, though we suspect there must be a more masculine version of that title.

John Travolta played "Jack Stanton," a fictionalized version of Bill Clinton, in Primary Colors, a novel based on Clinton and his 1992 presidential campaign. Having already earned significant acclaim as a facsimile of the man, Travolta is a shoo-in to play the genuine article in our fantasy film. His voice is eerily similar to Clinton's own, which is surely one of the reasons Travolta was cast in Primary Colors in the first place. Plus, John Travolta has never starred in a film with Meryl Streep, our pick for Hillary, and we would love to see those two share the screen someday.

1 Michael Douglas as Wolf Blitzer

Michael Douglas as Wolf Blitzer
Photo via Flickr user Italy in US


The action scenes in a drama about a presidential race are the debates, in which the candidates gather and discuss their varying positions on an assortment of issues. The debates in this 2016 race have so far been uncharacteristically ugly, with the Republican debates in particular taking absurd detours into pathetic attempts at masculine showboating, and candidates engaging in outright name-calling and even making reference to hand and penis size. Great job keeping it dignified, fellas.

Wolf Blitzer is one of the lead anchors of CNN and often hosts and moderates over the debates, as well as taking the candidates to task in comprehensive one-on-one interviews. We would like to see the role of Wolf "Nobody Calls Me Howlin' Even Though I Ask Them To" Blitzer being filled by none other than Michael Douglas, an actor who could conceivably be able wrangle the disparate candidates in a group situation. In fact, come to think of it, Michael Douglas might do a better job moderating debates and holding candidates accountable for their words than Wolf Blitzer himself. Even at the ripe old age of 71, the man is still intimidating as hell.


That's all folks; would you be interested in seeing a movie about the 2016 election with this cast? Do you agree with our casting choices? Who would you like to see instead? Sound off in the comments section!

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