Hollywood has a habit of weaving a film or series out of real-life events, whether the subject is Hot Cheetos, Bratz Dolls or the British royal family. There are also many highly praised films based on U.S. presidents, like “Lincoln,” “Nixon” and “Primary Colors.”

Since life imitates art, the story of the 2024 presidential race will likely end up on the big screen. If there is a movie about President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, who should be cast to play the leads?

Before selecting any actors for these two pivotal roles, it’s important to remember how distinct Biden and Trump are.

“They have more specific mannerisms that people talk about than maybe any other presidential candidates that I’ve ever seen,” said Amber Evans, the owner of Stars Talent Studio in Lehi, Utah. It doesn’t help that any move Biden or Trump make is micro-analyzed on the internet.

Evans has previously placed actors in the three-part movie series “High School Musical,” a teen love story, and “Yellowstone,” a drama series about ranchers filmed in Utah. “Casting choices can really make or break a production, especially when it comes to portraying real-life figures,” Evans said.

“There’s just a lot of studying of these characters. ... Hours and months go into eating differently to embody their physical characteristics,” she said, explaining that hair and makeup are also an integral part of this morphing process. This includes bald caps, hair extensions and fake scars. “There’s so much more that goes into this than people realize,” Evans said.

Daniel Day-Lewis poses backstage with the award for best actor for "Lincoln" at the 18th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards at the Barker Hangar on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, in Santa Monica, Calif. | John Shearer

“Lincoln,” the 2012 film about U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, required Daniel Day-Lewis, the leading star, to spend countless hours reading books, looking at photographs and touring historic places to best capture Lincoln’s demeanor, Evans said. Apart from learning the physical traits, from body movements to the voice, there’s the personality, whether they have a snobbish attitude or how they like their tea or coffee.

She said she visualizes a reality show like the 2022 “Harry & Meghan” reality show that peeled back the curtain on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s lives. “We only see 5% of what actually goes on behind the scenes,” said Evans. “It would be really interesting to see more.” But this depiction should incorporate a level of respect for Biden and Trump’s efforts to improve the economy and govern the country. “Even though there’s humor, I feel there should be a level of honor, too,” she added.

Evans said she thinks their time in office is too fresh to be on the big screen just yet. “I usually see these things hit after (the officials) have been released from their futures,” she said. “At this very minute, someone is writing what will be sold 10 years from now.”

Still, it’s fun to speculate which actor could get the role of playing Trump or Biden.

Former President Donald Trump

Anyone who gets a part to play the former president will need to bring “the charisma and larger-than-life presence that he’s known for,” Evans said.

As a professional casting director, she said it’s important to pay attention to the physical traits, like how Trump wears his hair blond with a comb-over. He has a “robust build” and is at least 6 feet 3 inches, which, she noted, “is tall for a guy.” His last weight measurement was 215 pounds, as listed by the Fulton County Officials at the time of his booking over the 2020 Georgia election interference case in August.

The easy choice: Alec Baldwin already had a worldwide televised audition to play Trump, so to speak. He played this role on Saturday Night Live about 46 times during the former president’s 2016 term.

Trump has at times criticized the actor for his impersonations, saying Baldwin does a “poor job.” As reported by Newsweek, Baldwin in a 2022 video on Instagram agreed his performance as Trump “wasn’t very good and was very mean-spirited.” But if he decided to take a more serious approach instead of treating it like parody, he could pull off a great Trump, given his existing long-term study of the man.

“With Trump, it’s difficult because he is a parody of himself,” Baldwin said. “I wanted Trump to be a cartoon. I wanted to take Trump to another level of kind of madness and silliness and just weirdness.”

He said for him, this character is “always searching for a stronger, better word, but he never finds it.”

“Whenever I play him, I make a long pause to find that word, and then I just repeat the word I started with: ‘These people are great people. They’re fantastic people, and I just want to say that working with them was...a fantastic experience,’” Baldwin said.

The already-done pick: Brendan Gleeson has also already played Trump, in the miniseries “The Comey Rule.” The show spans two episodes, totaling four hours, and is based on the book “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership” by James Comey, former FBI director. It follows Trump through his presidential campaign in 2016 and the early days of his presidency.

“When I wanted to go at it, I had to go at it fairly,” Gleeson said at a virtual event with Deadline in late 2022. They brought a hairstylist in to fix up his hair, even though the Irish actor shares a similar colored hair to the former president. “Then, on top of that, you get his speed of thought, his train of thought, his ability to switch tack — all that stuff had to come afterwards,” he said. “He has prominent upper teeth, but every time I did that I kind of spat them out in somebody’s face!”

The Washington Post noted his vocal abilities were “startlingly accurate.”

The out-of-the-box choice: English actor and filmmaker Gary Oldman has shown his ability to transform into a wide variety of characters — from James Gordon in “The Dark Knight” and Sirius Black in the “Harry Potter” movies to President Harry Truman in “Oppenheimer.” He is willing to go all the way to deliver a convincing performance.

Oldman won the Oscars for Best Actor and Best Makeup and Hairstyling for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in the 2017 English biography drama “Darkest Hour.” According to ScreenRant, he did extensive research, including archival news footage and speech recordings, and wore 14 pounds of prosthetics.

John Lithgow arrives at the 25th annual Critics' Choice Awards on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif. | Jordan Strauss

President Joe Biden

To play Biden, an actor would have to embody “warmth, empathy and (a) folksy charm,” said Evans. It’s crucial to tap into Biden’s emotional side since he has faced a lot of tragedies in his private life.

Biden weighs 178 pounds, and is 6 feet tall, according to the latest report from the president’s physician.

The one who had the job: John James played Biden in the fictionalized biographical comedy movie “My Son Hunter.” This 2022 film, distributed by conservative news website Breitbart News, centered around allegations Trump allies aimed at Hunter Biden, the president’s son.

“Joe Biden is a complex character,” said Phelim McAleer, the film’s documentarian, according to The Guardian. “At times he mumbles and stumbles but he also is one the longest-serving politicians in Washington who has become very wealthy during his time in public service. John is the perfect actor to portray that complexity.”

James comes from the prime-time soap opera world. He was a star on “Dynasty,” where he portrayed a powerful, influential figure, and “The Colbys.”

He may not be as high-profile as the other options, but James has the flair that’s needed for the job. Plus, he and Biden share a similar build. Biden is 6 feet while James is an inch taller. The rest can be fixed by hair, makeup and wardrobe decisions.

The worthy pick: John Lithgow also shares similar physical characteristics with Biden. Most recently he is known for playing Winston Churchill in Netflix’s “The Crown,” a series that traces the late Queen Elizabeth II’s life from 1947 to the almost the present day. Although Lithgow is a foot taller than Churchill, who was 5 feet 6 inches, they managed to hide that through costuming by creating a hunched back.

“All it really was was a wig and two plumpers which clicked onto my back teeth to give me those Churchill jowls. It also helped me with that peculiar voice of his,” Lithgow said at a Netflix event in 2016, as Entertainment Weekly reported. “I also stuffed cotton up my nose.”

Lithgow has also played Bill Clinton in the Broadway drama “Hillary and Clinton,” and former Fox News chief Roger Ailes in the docudrama “Bombshell,” as The Los Angeles Times reported.

“What they all have in common is that they make me feel very engaged. It’s great to do an entertainment that feels on point, somehow connected with what’s going on now,” he told reporters in 2019. He told the audience that to play Ailes, he needed to both impersonate the media magnate and transform physically.

Bryan Cranston poses for photographers upon arrival at the world premiere of the film "Argylle" on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024, in London. | Scott A Garfitt
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The out-of-the-box pick: Bryan Cranston is best known for his dramatic transformation into Walter White in “Breaking Bad.” In this crime drama, his character, a chemistry teacher, turns into a drug dealer. He wore a bald cap, a mustache and copious amounts of makeup to play White.

Cranston also played President Lydon B. Johnson in the HBO film “All the Way” and the 2014 Broadway show with the same name. He tried to be “very measured, laconic and controlled” when taking on the role of Johnson, who talked like that “on purpose because he thought it was going to present him in a way that was more presidential, more serious.”

As he told NPR, he saw Johnson as someone “seeking love.”

“He needs, craves, he must be fed love. He feels he’s unloved at his core. And so he’s constantly doing things out of wanting to be approved and loved,” Cranston said. He said finding the emotional core to the character he played in “Breaking Bad” was tougher. Walter White was depressed and numb. “The way he walked, the way he was overweight. He had pudginess. He was very pale,” he said.

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