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At the moment, the one question everyone's asking about Hillary Clinton is…
Oh, right. Well, yes: "Will she or won't she run for president?"
But we meant in Hollywood. And right now, that question is: "Who's the best actress to play her?" There are two Hillary-themed biopics in the works right now: Hillary, NBC's four-hour miniseries, and Rodham, a big- screen drama directed by James Ponsoldt. And this week brings news that at least one of those projects has found its former first lady.
Diane Lane has been cast in Hillary, which will focus on Clinton’s life as “a wife, mother, politician and cabinet member from 1998 to the present," according to an NBC press release. "The script will begin with Clinton living in the White House as her husband is serving the second of his two terms as president. In the years following, she would eventually become a United States senator, run for president and, ultimately, serve the country as secretary of state.” At 48, Lane is nearly the age Clinton was when the mini-series' action begins. And while she's not exactly a physical doppelganger, she could certainly be made to resemble her with the right makeup, eyewear, and iconic pantsuit.
Who else could pull it off? That's a subject up for debate -- a raging one, actually -- as the quest for the perfect, big-screen Clinton continues.
The stakes are higher for Rodham, which would ostensibly premiere around the time of the 2016 presidential election (a race Clinton is expected to run, with her usual zealous drive). But this film will travel back in time to 1974, when she was a Washington lawyer.
Early this year, Ponsoldt drummed up lots of publicity for his future movie when he name-dropped such famous women as Jessica Chastain, Amanda Seyfried, Scarlett Johansson and Reese Witherspoon as candidates for the role.
“They’re all wonderful actresses," he said. "We’re very fortunate that a lot of really great actors are interested in playing these roles. We’re in an enviable position.”
Why, in his opinion, did all these actresses want the role? “Regardless of people’s political affiliation or how they feel about Hillary Clinton, you don’t find people who question the quality of her intelligence or her drive," he said. "I want a wonderful actress who could embody that.”
Then several other A-list actresses were linked with the film, including Carey Mulligan, Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Stone. But as the weeks and months have unfolded since the project was announced, a funny thing's happened: Several of the so-called major contenders for the role have either passed on it, or denied having been asked in the first place.
Truth is, playing an intelligent, polarizing, love-her-or-hate-her political figure is one thing. But playing her when she is in the public's face every single day, in the midst of a presidential political campaign, is quite another. Whoever lands this role will have to throw herself into it with gusto, and many of today's big-name actresses have limited time in their schedules to do so. We break down the chances of five of the most buzzed-about contenders.
Why she'd rock the pantsuit: Just last month, entertainment news outlets were hailing The Great Gatsby star as the seemingly undisputed pick for the role. Showing photos of Mulligan and Clinton, Good Morning America's Paula Farris said: "Look at them side by side. She's a dead ringer, isn't she? And she doesn't just look like her. Onscreen, Mulligan's shown she's perfectly capable of playing a woman with a high level of self-confidence." (Daisy Buchanan, anyone?)
The upshot: Almost as soon as the "Mulligan for First Lady" hoopla started, inside sources quickly shot the speculation down. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Mulligan "was not prepared to commit to the role."
Why she'd rock the pantsuit: In April, insiders told The Wrap "that if Lawrence wanted to play Clinton, the producers would have a hard time turning her down, considering the fact that she's coming off an Oscar win for Silver Linings Playbook and her box office prowess is only growing." Clinton and Lawrence (onscreen, anyway) share an undeniable willingness to speak one's mind. Lawrence could certainly bring her not-so-quiet strength to the role.
The upshot: There's been no word from Lawrence that she's even considering the role. Meanwhile, she has two other projects already lined up: David O. Russell's American Hustle and the next X-Men film, Days of Future Past.
Why she'd rock the pantsuit: This versatile actress could probably take on anyone -- even Hillary Clinton -- if she put her mind to it. That may be why she was an early favorite for the role.
The upshot: Actually, that wasn't true. "Scarlett has never been asked to do this film," a representative for the actress told HuffPost Entertainment. "She hasn't been approached about it nor seen a script. It's a total fabrication."
Why she'd rock the pantsuit: We all know that the Zero Dark Thirty actress can play a smart, serious woman in government. It's not much of a stretch envisioning her fighting for her views -- just in big glasses.
The upshot: When reporters recently asked Chastain about playing the lead in Rodham, she replied: "No, that's actually not true. I found out about the project online, but, yeah, there's a lot of stuff out there." In fact, according to digitalspy.com, "she reportedly has her sights set on a role in Christopher Nolan's 2014 sci-fi release, Interstellar."
Why she'd rock the pantsuit: It's not surprising that Ponsoldt had her on his early wish list back in January. The Legally Blonde star has already played a lawyer, and she's proven she can impersonate a beloved public figure with aplomb. (She won an Oscar for playing June Carter Cash in Walk The Line.)
The upshot: The media hasn't heard a peep out of Witherspoon about this movie. Like Chastain and Johansson, the talk about her involvement could also just be hype.
Jennifer Graham Kizer is an Atlanta-based writer who covers pop culture and watches too much TV. Luckily, iVillage gives her an excuse to watch even more. Follow her on Google+.