Photo Credit: Courtesy of National Geographic Channel
The National Geographic Channel has released its first photos of Rob Lowe portraying John F. Kennedy in the upcoming docudrama, Killing Kennedy. The film, which is due to air in November, also stars Ginnifer Goodwin as Jackie. Lowe won't be the first actor to startle TV audiences with an uncanny Presidential portrayal. Here are five others who transformed before our eyes.
David Morse as George Washington in HBO's John Adams, 2010
Courtesy of HBO
Critics swooned over Morse's channeling of our first president. "As George Washington, David Morse's resemblance is uncanny," wrote Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker. "While at first I thought the actor was doing a lot of unnecessary jaw wiggling, it finally occurred to silly me: 'Of course, he's having trouble with his 18th-century teeth!' And then I wondered, 'When did he get those fabled wooden choppers installed?'"
Greg Kinnear as John F. Kennedy in ReelzChannel's The Kennedys, 2011
Courtesy of Reelz Channel
In this controversial take on America's most famous political clan, Kinnear delivered a warts-and-all version of JFK. "I had a bit of anxiousness taking on the role," he told Entertainment Weekly. "I have always had…this incredible awe of him as both a mythical figure and an incredible president." But at the same time, he said, "one of the good things about the script is that the characters are not played like cardboard cutouts. They are flawed, three-dimensional people." While many critics didn't care for Katie Holmes' depiction of Jackie, Kinnear won praise from Slate for capturing "his character's non-rhotal speech persuasively."
Billy Campbell as Abraham Lincoln in the National Geographic Channel's Killing Lincoln, 2013
Courtesy of National Geographic Channel
“I don’t walk around thinking of myself as Lincolnesque,” Campbell told The Washington Post. And of course, his timing was monumentally off: Just a week after this docudrama aired, Daniel Day Lewis scooped up a Best Actor Oscar for his own, big screen Lincoln portrayal. Nonetheless, Campbell's TV depiction was well received. (And the motion picture Lincoln probably helped Campbell's version, since Killing Lincoln garnered the highest total viewership in the network's history.)
James Brolin as Ronald Reagan on Showtime's The Reagans, 2003
Courtesy of Showtime
Long before his son Josh portrayed George W. Bush in the big screen hit, W, James played Reagan (opposite Judy Davis's Nancy) in this TV movie. Though originally slated to air on CBS, controversy erupted—conservatives suspected a liberal bias—and the special moved to Showtime. But the hoopla didn't dampen the warm reception Brolin got from critics. According to the New York Times: "James Brolin's portrayal of Ronald Reagan is uncannily convincing and respectful."
Dennis Quaid as Bill Clinton in HBO's The Special Relationship, 2010
Courtesy of HBO
“I almost said no," said Quaid, who eventually agreed to play Clinton opposite Hope Davis's Hillary. “Because I knew [Clinton] back when he was in the White House. I don’t look anything like him. My mannerisms are completely different than his. I didn’t really see myself in him at all.” But once he'd committed to the part, he gained 35 pounds, shaved his eyebrows and wore a wig to resemble Clinton. He also read Clinton's autobiography for details. The research paid off, with one reviewer calling Quaid and Davis "both absolutely perfect as the Clintons."
Jennifer Graham Kizer is an iVillage contributing writer. Follow her on Google+.