Bruce Greenwood. William Peterson. Tim Matheson. Steven Weber. Martin Sheen. William Devane. Greg Kinnear. These are some of the actors who have previously portrayed President John F. Kennedy on TV or in movies.
Add Matthew McConaughey to that list.
As Michael Fleming of Deadline Hollywood reported, McConaughey has been cast as JFK in The Butler, a new film by Lee Daniels (Precious) about Eugene Allen, the White House butler who worked under eight presidents.
Forest Whitaker plays the lead in the film, which also stars Oprah Winfrey. In another, indirect Texas connection, Jacqueline Kennedy will be played by Minka Kelly, best known to anyone who is not a New York Yankees fan as Friday Night Lights‘ Lyla Garrity.
In what is probably more a tribute to the JFK and Jackie mystique rather than the Matthew/Minka mystique, McConaughey and Kelly’s casting completely overshadowed the fact that the film also includes John Cusack as Richard Nixon and Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan (which all but guarantees hours of free publicity for the film on Fox News).
Daniels’ The Paperboy, which stars both McConaughey and Cusack (and Zac Efron), is currently screening at the Cannes Film Festival.
Naturally, the news inspired a rash of JFK-as-Wooderson jokes.
First, the Austin American-Statesman‘s Mathew Odam, who began his item with:
“Err, uh, awright, awright, awright.”
(That one would have played better as an MP3).
And then there was this parenthetical from Indiewire‘s Ryan Gowland:
All right, all right, Ich bin ein Berliner
And, on Twitter, the Texas Tribune‘s Evan Smith:
You got some back medication? It’d be a whole lot cooler if you did politi.co/Moqbsh
— Evan Smith (@evanasmith) May 24, 2012
“But his accent is pure LBJ!,” protested Daniel D’Addario of the New York Observer, whose own accent, we imagine, is exactly like Robert DeNiro’s in Mean Streets.
Pshaw. We say our favorite UT-loving, shirtless, bongo-playing movie star can play JFK as well as Greg Kinnear. Or at least as well as Leonardo DiCaprio can play J. Edgar Hoover.
The truth is McConaughey seems to be on a pretty nice streak–he’s been a player in such recent projects as Richard Linklater’s Bernie (yeah, yeah: full disclosure), The Paperboy, William Friedkin’s upcoming Killer Joe, and Jeff Nichols’ Mud. He’s also part of the ensemble starring in Steven Soderbergh’s hotly anticipated Magic Mike, a movie about male strippers. McConaughey and the film’s other hairlessly ab-tastic stars (Channing Tatum, True Blood‘s Joe Manganiello, and Spring native Matt Bomer) are on the cover of the current Entertainment Weekly, with a hilarious roundtable interview.
“This was a new challenge,” McConaughey joked of his role. “I had to be pantless.”