Opinion Brief

The Reagan movie: Who should star?

Plans have been announced for a Ronald Reagan biopic. Which actor is the best choice to play the Gipper?

The story of Ronald Reagan's life is coming to the big screen. The $30 million film will tell the story of the 40th president's life, from boyhood through the presidency, based on two best-selling biographies. The biopic isn't slated for release until late 2011, but the speculation frenzy about casting has already begun. Which Hollywood star should the producers sign to play the Great Communicator?

Go young: Zac Efron
"Zefron has an uncanny resemblance to the Gipper, no?" says Dodai Stewart at Jezebel. The hugely popular High School Musical star would be a good choice, says Emma Gray at Week in Rewind, if the producers go with just one actor to play Reagan as an adult. There are many possibilities — James Franco, for instance — but "my personal vote goes for Efron. It would be nice to see that pretty boy tackle a meatier role — and one that takes him out of high school."
"Ronald Reagan coming to the silver screen"

Go physical: Brandon Routh
Let's not forget that "Reagan was an imposing physical presence, and a pair of lifts and padded clothing won't be enough" to convey that with a smaller actor, says Monika Bartyzel at Cinematical. Brandon Routh, the hulking actor best known for 2006's Superman Returns, would be ideal, especially since Reagan himself "had a Superman-like look in his earlier years." Besides — "can you even fathom Efron as the president?"
"Ronald Reagan gets a big-screen biopic"

Go unexpected: Ben Affleck 
Affleck is "preternaturally boyish and disarming, not unlike the prez, and both men were underestimated as lightweights before finally achieving widespread success," says Jeff Labrecque at Entertainment Weekly. Sure, Ben Affleck is an outspoken liberal, and casting fellow Democrat James Brolin caused a headache for a Reagan biopic in 2003. But if political preference becomes a litmus test for prospective actors, "the talent pool will thin in a hurry."
"Will politics make it difficult to cast Ronald Reagan?"

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