Coming to cinemas on June 24th, Elvis & Nixon tells the true story you won’t quite believe. On the morning of December 21st 1970 the world’s biggest star, Elvis Presley (Michael Shannon) arrived on the White House lawn to request a meeting with the most powerful man in the world, President Richard Nixon (Kevin Spacey). Elvis & Nixon tells the astounding true story of this meeting between two men at the height of their powers.
In a recent interview with Stephen Colbert, Spacey said, “He has been portrayed so many times — he’s been imitated so many times…That was the challenge…I obviously did not want to do an imitation or caricature of him”. As we look forward to this upcoming film, we’re taking a look back at the way other actors have made the role of Nixon their own.
Starring Frank Langella as President Nixon, Frost/Nixon is a dramatic retelling of the former president’s real-life post-Watergate television interviews with English talk-show host David Frost. Langella was praised for his attention to detail in capturing the essence of Nixon’s character, and said that his performance aimed to capture Nixon’s self-destructive tendencies and haunted psyche.
A comedic take on the events of the 1970s, this parody attributes the controversies of the Nixon presidency to the influence of two teenage girls that happen to meet Nixon on a school trip to Washington, D.C. Once the President appoints them as dog-walkers, their presence in the White House causes a series of mishaps that pose huge problems for his administration. Dan Hedaya’s Nixon is larger than life, with a fiery temper and direct personality that are equal parts funny and endearing.
This historical dramatization takes the audience on a journey through Nixon’s life, from his childhood to his eventual resignation from office. The former president is portrayed by Anthony Hopkins, a veteran actor and Lifetime Achievement award-winner, and no stranger to taking on historical characters (he’s appeared on screen as John Quincy Adams, Adolf Hitler, and more). In spite of his years of experience, Hopkins said Nixon was his toughest role ever, and hoped to do justice not only to the former president’s insecurity and paranoia, but also his humanity.
Secret Honor (1984)
In this reflection on Nixon’s life, Philip Baker Hall takes on the challenge of playing the former president in a cast of one. This film takes place in Nixon’s study, where the former president retreats alone to ruminate on the circumstances that led to his resignation. Hall’s performance is more concerned with exploring Nixon’s inner workings than executing a perfect imitation of his superficial characteristics, and gives insight into what made this controversial figure tick.
This mockumentary is a scathing satire on the ineffectuality of the Nixon administration. The film features Nixon doppelganger Richard M. Dixon as the former president. A seasoned Nixon imitator (Dixon reprised the role of Nixon in seven different films) Dixon plays this iteration of the former president as a corrupt and unethical mess of a man.