Showtime is paying homage to the women of the White House with the anthology series The First Lady. The series takes viewers back in time in American history, showing important events through the eyes of the First Lady.
Casting The First Lady
The Showtime series features Viola Davis transforming into Michelle Obama, Michelle Pfeiffer into Betty Ford, and Gillian Anderson into Eleanor Roosevelt and watch the world transform through the eyes of the ladies in the East Wing.
But they aren’t the only cast members venturing into the White House. See The First Lady cast next to their real-life counterparts.
Michelle Pfeiffer As Betty Ford
Michelle Pfeiffer is no stranger to taking on hefty roles, but, according to the actor, portraying a former First Lady on screen was no small feat. All she wanted to do was honor Betty Ford, who served as First Lady from1974 to 1977.
During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Pfeiffer said, “It’s just, it’s very, very weighty…I’m really honored that I was given the opportunity to share that story with everyone.”
Gillian Anderson As Eleanor Roosevelt
Gillian Anderson is no stranger to playing historical figures, having portrayed British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Crown. She is taking on the role of Eleanor Roosevelt, who was the First Lady from 1933 to 1945.
Executive Vice President, Scripted Programming for Showtime Networks Amy Israel spoke of Anderson’s inclusion in the anthology, saying, “[she] is an actress of incredible range and exquisite talent – she is the perfect choice to complete this powerhouse trio…”
Judy Greer As Nancy Howe
After actress Pamela Adlon left the show due to scheduling conflicts, actress Judy Greer stepped into the shoes of Nancy Howe in The First Lady. Howe worked at the White House until 1975 and was the personal assistant for former First Lady Betty Ford.
On top of being an assistant, Howe was Ford’s closest and most trusted confidant in the White House.
Kristine Froseth As Young Betty Ford
The Looking for Alaska actress Kristine Froseth plays a young Betty Ford in The First Lady. Froseth will be seen portraying Ford as she studies at the Calla Travis Dance Studio under the tutelage of Martha Graham.
From there, viewers will watch as Ford moves from New York City to Grand Rapids, Michigan, eventually meeting and marrying Gerald Ford.
Dakota Fanning As Susan Ford
Dakota Fanning has come a long way from being a child star and is now taking on the role of former President Gerald Ford and First Lady Betty Ford’s youngest child, their daughter Susan.
While living at the White House, Susan took on the role of the official White House hostess. She even held her senior prom in the East Room!
Eliza Scanlen As Young Eleanor Roosevelt
Little Women and Sharp Objects actress Eliza Scanlen is taking on the role of young Eleanor Roosevelt in The First Lady.
Roosevelt was the favorite niece of President Theodore Roosevelt, and the anthology will follow her as she attends Allenswood Academy, where she became an independent and progressive thinker, up until she wedded Franklin Roosevelt in 1905.
Rhys Wakefield As Dick Cheney
Viewers might recognize Rhys Wakefield from season three of True Detective or even as the Polite Leader in The Purge franchise. In The First Lady, though, he is taking on the role of President Ford’s deputy chief of staff, Dick Cheney.
Cheney served in the position from November 21, 1975, until January 20, 1977.
Kiefer Sutherland As President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Actor Kiefer Sutherland will be taking up the mantle of 32nd President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, in The First Lady.
He and his wife, Eleanor, played by Gillian Anderson, were leading figures in the 20th century, namely during the Great Depression when he implemented the New Deal.
Jake Picking As Young Gerald “Jerry” Ford
Jake Picking takes on the role of young Gerald “Jerry” Ford in The First Lady. Known for his role in Hollywood, Picking now embraces the persona of a former football player who is coming back from his time in the service.
Viewers will then see as he takes his first congressional seat and marries Betty in 1948.
Aaron Eckhart As President Gerald Ford
Known for his role as Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight, President Benjamin Asher in Olympus Has Fallen, and President Benjamin Asher in London Has Fallen, actor Aaron Eckhart is taking on the role of another president.
In The First Lady, he portrays Michelle Pfeiffer’s onscreen husband, President Geral Ford, the 38th President of the United States.
Lily Rabe As Lorena Hickok
Lil Rabe is known for her work on The American Horror Story anthology and is now entering a new one with her role as reporter Lorena Hickok in The First Lady.
Hickok was known for her close relationship with former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and was one of her closest confidants during he husband’s presidency.
Cayden Boyd As Michael Ford
Viewers might recognize Cayden Boyd from The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl and young Angel in X-Men: The Last Stand, as well as episodes of NCIS, Good Girls, and Heathers.
In 2022, he’s stepping into the White House as the oldest son of President Gerald Ford and First Lady Betty Ford, Michael Ford.
Leslie Rodriguez As Martha Graham
It turns out that The First Lady will touch base on Betty Ford’s time as a dancer in New York City, as Leslie Rodriguez has been brought in to portray the iconic modern dance instructor Martha Graham.
Known for creating the “Graham Technique,” Martha Graham became the first dancer invited to perform at the White House.
Jayme Lawson As Young Michelle Obama
A new face to the entertainment industry, Jayme Lawson landed the role of a young Michelle Obama before she even stepped foot in the White House.
Lawson will play Obama from ages 15-30, starting in the south side of Chicago and then following her story as she attends Princeton University and Harvard Law School, and finally her marriage to Barack in 1992.
Marc Hills As John “Jack” Ford
Marc Hills’ acting resume only goes back to 2017, making him one of the more “inexperienced” cast members of The First Lady. In the anthology, Hills takes on the role of John “Jack” Ford, the second oldest son of President Gerald Ford and First Lady Betty Ford.
Jack was born in 1952, making it, so his adolescence was spent growing up in the White House.
Julian De Niro As Young Barack Obama
Julian De Niro, son of iconic actor Robert De Niro, is set to portray former President Barack Obama during his early adult years. De Niro will take viewers through Obama’s life, starting with his time as an emerging politician and community organizer in Chicago.
Viewers will also see De Niro as a summer law intern for Sidley and Austin, the place where Obama met his future wife, Michelle.
Viola Davis As Michelle Obama
Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis is portraying an icon in The First Lady — Michelle Obama, the First Lady of the United States from 2008 until 2017. According to Davis, she’s terrified about playing Obama!
“There’s a lot of fear that I messed up my portrayal of Michelle Obama. She’s an icon,” said Davis. “But I’m mostly terrified about what she will think. I don’t want to insult her and have her calling me. I gotta make the sister look good. I just hope that it lands with her.”
O. T. Fagbenle As Barack Obama
After appearing in the MCU’s Black Widow, the critically acclaimed series The Handmaid’s Tale, and the show Material Girls, actor O. T. Fagbenle takes on the persona of former President Barack Obama in The First Lady.
When speaking of the role, Fagbenle said, “I mainly focused on the footage of him, which is readily available. In some ways, the extent of the footage of him is both a wonderful tool, but it’s also a big challenge because people are so aware of the specificity of his speech.”
Thomas E. Sullivan As William G. Warren
Known for his roles in A.G.E.N.T.S of Shield and The Irishman, Thomas E. Sullivan takes on the role of Betty Ford’s first husband, William “Bill” G. Warren, in The First Lady.
Betty knew will since she was 12 years old. He worked with her father in insurance sales and the two wed in 1942. They were divorced a few years later, in 1947.
Aya Cash As Esther Liebowitz
Known for her role in the superhero series The Boys, Aya Cash is taking on a new type of role in The First Lady. She portrays President Ford’s press secretary Esther Liebowitz.
Drama is bound to ensue, as Liebowitz was known to have differences in opinion with both the First Lady and President, asking them to take on more conservative approaches than they wanted during their time in the White House.