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The First Lady Cast Looks Just Like The Real White House Political Figures

Viola Davis said Michelle Obama potentially watching the Showtime series “keeps her up at night.”

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Showtime’s new anthology series The First Lady explores Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Gerald Ford, and Barack Obama’s iconic U.S. presidencies through the women who stood beside them. Click through to see how The First Lady cast compares to their real-life White House counterparts.

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In her first leading television role since How to Get Away with Murder wrapped in 2020, Viola Davis stars as Michelle Obama. The actor recently spoke about the pressure of playing such an important figure and said the idea of Obama watching the series “keeps her up at night.”

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“As much as we feel like we know Michelle Obama — and I did everything I could to research — there are those private moments where there’s some level of creative decision-making you have to take,” Davis said. “There’s a huge amount of fear... But that’s what we live for as artists.”

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Emmy-nominated The Handmaid’s Tale star O-T Fagbenle portrays President Obama in the series. Similar to his co-star, the British actor recently spoke about the daunting prospect of stepping into the beloved former president’s shoes.

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“There’s a crushing pressure [playing Obama],” Fagbenle said to Collider. “The showrunner of Handmaid’s Tale sent me an email about various things, and at the end he was like, ‘Don’t destroy his legacy.’ And I was like, ‘Oh yeah, thanks, man. No pressure on me then.’”

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Marking a rare television role in her 50+ year acting career, Michelle Pfeiffer appears as Betty Ford, the wife of President Ford. In a recent interview with Extra, the Golden Globe winner spoke about her preparation process for the role.

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“It is [daunting], and you don’t really think about that until you commit. I’m now doing a deep dive into [Betty], and I take it seriously,” Pfeiffer said. “It’s a real person who has family, who was an incredibly important part of American history, so I’m honored.”

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Portraying President Ford is Aaron Eckhart, known for his performances as Nick Naylor in 2005’s Thank You for Smoking and Harvey Dent/Two-Face in 2008’s The Dark Knight, among other film projects.

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The First Lady may be Eckhart’s first time playing a real-life U.S. president, though he previously portrayed fictional President Benjamin Asher in 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen and its 2016 sequel, London Has Fallen.

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Fresh off her stint as UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Netflix’s The Crown, Gillian Anderson will appear in The First Lady as Eleanor Roosevelt, who was dubbed the “First Lady of the World” by President Harry S. Truman for her work as a human rights activist.

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Anderson recently revealed she found it more difficult to portray Roosevelt than Thatcher. “With Eleanor, you get to see a well-rounded perspective of who this woman was, over a couple of decades of her lifetime,” said the actor. “She was such a powerhouse of a woman.”

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Filling out the First Lady cast is Emmy-winning actor Kiefer Sutherland as President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who notably led the United States out of the Great Depression.

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Known for his performance as Jack Bauer for 192 episodes of 24 and two spinoff series, The First Lady marks Sutherland’s second time playing a U.S. president — though it’s his first time playing a real one following his role as Thomas Kirkman on Designated Survivor.