The Greatest Fictional Presidents in Film

It’s 2012 and we know what that means. No, I’m not talking about leap year. No, I’m not talking about the Olympics. No… okay, let me just spell it out. Presidential Election Year (in the United States – sorry international readers). But amidst all the rampant speculation and political horse race coverage, we can often lose sight of what’s important in a Presidential candidate: the ability to deliver a kick-ass speech while we face certain death.

1. Jack Nicholson as President James Dale (Mars Attacks)

Admittedly, a world crazy enough to elect Jack Nicholson president deserves to be attacked by Mars. But there’s a wicked swagger to the President and, clearly, he’s got a way with words – even if it doesn’t turn out so well in the end.


2. Morgan Freeman as President Beck (Deep Impact)

Note to whoever makes these decisions at the White House: if, in the real world, you ever need to deliver REALLY bad news to the public, get Morgan Freeman to do it. His voice is so damn calming. This clip is after the threat has been mostly averted (SPOILER ALERT), but it’s still inspirational.


3. Bill Pullman as President Whitmore (Independence Day)

Perhaps the greatest and most inspiring speech that any fictional president has delivered. Although I’m generally a pacifist, I would take up prop weapons to defeat an invading computer generated alien threat for this man.


So this November, when you go to cast your vote for the next President of The United States of America, take these clips into consideration. When it comes down to it, can your candidate deliver the kind of inspiring, rousing and well-articulated speech we’re going to need when the MayanPocalypse 2012 goes down?


93 comments on “The Greatest Fictional Presidents in Film

  1. If only we could have candidates who were as theatrically trained as these gentlemen, right?

    Wait…maybe not such a good idea…


    And if you ever do a recap of “small-screen presidential inspiration,” don’t you dare forget Martin Sheen.

    Best. Fake President. Ever.

  2. brains says:

    sorry. the best president was michael douglas in “the american president.”

    that bill pullman speech was hokey, trite, lame, etc.

  3. YES to Bill Pullman and his speech. That movie has been a classic in my family for years, and that speech is just the best. “We will not go quietly into the night!” Fantastic – thanks for putting a smile on my face. πŸ™‚

  4. sportsjim81 says:

    Love this! That Bill Pullman speech gives me chills every time I hear it. To fictional arms! To fictional arms! Great post and congrats on FP.

  5. stevewthomas says:

    You forgot Harrison Ford in Air Force One. When he says, “Get off my plane!” You get OFF the plane (in flight and without a ‘chute!). It’s much more effective than having the hostess/stewardess/wannabe model “tell on you” to the FAA when you land.

  6. I would vote for Morgan Freeman for President.

  7. Caz says:

    Great choices! I would add in Michael Douglas in ‘The American President’.

  8. Raaj Trambadia says:

    An international comment here πŸ˜› Just to wish all the best to all the Americans out there! May the best and deserving win!!

    And please check out my latest post –

    And even my new PhotoBlog –

  9. rp71 says:

    How could you miss out Pres. Josiah Bartlett (of West Wing)….seriously the best fictional Prez…let Bartlet be Bartlet…

  10. Tim Rodgers says:

    Andrew Shepherd, “The American President.”
    “We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them.”

  11. lisabrignoni says:

    It’s not film but I still feel like President David Palmer from 24 deserves honorary mention here…

    • Paragraph Film Reviews says:

      BOOM!!! Was going to say the exact same thing. Palmer is THE MAN, and if I could pick someone to run the UK just now (lord knows we could do with someone decent) I’d elect Palmer!

  12. Wacky Nat says:

    That speech from Bull Pullman actually had me a little teary eyed, and it takes a lot to get me that way. Bill Pullman gets my vote. I didn’t like Michael Douglas at all in that role.

  13. OAG says:

    Morgan Freeman is not only one of the BEST movie presidents…. he is just about the only actor that I can deal with playing God. now THAT is acting power!

  14. Y u think says:

    let me see, Nope… No of the current candidates would live up to these fictitious Presidents or handle the end of the world in any manner befitting them.

  15. char says:

    Morgan Freeman for President! Woohoo!

  16. The Double A says:

    Great post–I forgot about Nicholson playing the president in Mars Attacks! Too funny

  17. pryan51 says:

    “Although I’m generally a pacifist, I would take up prop weapons to defeat an invading computer generated alien threat for this man.” This is the funniest thing I have read in a LONG LONG TIME!!!

    Thank you πŸ˜€

  18. ssdd2012 says:

    I would have to vote for number 3. Every time I watch that movie and see the speech before they attack the aliens I get all fired up and want to fight aliens.

  19. I agree with the comment about Harrison Ford (“Air Force One”). And I absolutely loved Kevin Kline in ‘Dave’ (although he was really just playing a ‘stand in’ for the real President – also played by Kline – who was in comatose in the basement of the White House). He brought common sense and a down to earth ‘working man’s’ approach to the job. Great, fun movie.

  20. jdatrading says:

    william devane as JFK in missiles of october
    and then in a lesser-known role as POTUS
    in the stargate sg-1 series.
    re ‘left’ wing we all know that whole show
    as the pretend presidency for the libs during the GWB era.

    • matthewhyde says:

      Not the President, but Devane played the Secretary of Defence in 24. Although he started shooting up terrorists at one point, so one online reviewer christened him the Secretary of OFFence…

      Which was cool.

  21. Jacq says:

    I agree with a couple of others here: it’s GOT to be Jed Bartlet! And Matt Santos was looking pretty decent as well.

  22. Jbot says:

    No love for President Merkin Muffley from Dr. Strangelove?

  23. I always kinda liked the thought of Robin Wlliams…

  24. cricketmuse says:

    You forgot Harrison Ford: “Get off my plane!” Gotta love having a president that personally escorts terrorists off Air Force One.
    Happy Pages,

  25. ivanlabayne says:

    “we can often lose sight of what’s important in a Presidential candidate: the ability to deliver a kick-ass speech while we face certain death.” are we relying on too much rhetorics? what are the sense of moving, inspiring speeches when we all continue to be stucked in a rut?

  26. Collin Myers says:

    Yes! These picks are correct, in my opinion…

  27. Jeremy Kerns says:

    Thanks for all the wonderful feedback, everybody! I really appreciate it. I almost included Michael Douglas and Kevin Kline, but didn’t feel those situations fit the theme of world-wide disaster like these other three. But somehow I totally forgot about Harrison Ford… I’m so ashamed. And as for President Bartlett and the other television presidents, I felt there were just too many possibilities to include so I wimped out and went for film presidents only.

    But thank you all so much for showing that my first instinct may have been correct. πŸ™‚

  28. How about Ford?! πŸ˜€ he is awesome too. Although, I am not eligible to vote in your country. X)

  29. Totally agree with Jbot – it has to be Peter Sellers’s President Muffley. “Gentlemen, Gentlemen – you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!”

    Trivia – Peter Sellers based his protrayal of Dr Strangelove himself on a then-not-well-known Harvard academic called Henry Kissinger …

  30. starlight says:

    my fave is bill pullman.. love his speech.. its like i could feel his sincerity..

  31. kaylakakes says:

    Harrison Ford in Air Force One is hands down my favorite movie president.

  32. What do these guys have in common with the guy doing it for real now?

    Scripted, Acted, Fake!

  33. koreancracker says:

    This list needs more President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho!

  34. Peter Sellars as ‘Chauncey Gardiner’ in Being There. OK, so he only got to president elect by the end of the film, but the inference was that he would become president. Brilliant actor, brilliant man, brilliant film!

  35. L says:

    Bruce Greenwood in Thirteen Days!

  36. rynshrp says:

    Two words…. Danny Glover.

  37. ravensmarch says:

    Oh, dear, where have the students of fake American history gone? Everyone knows that Henry Fonda was the greatest film US president: son of Teddy Roosevelt (1962, The Longest Day), he was in office during the terrible accidental exchange of nuclear weapons in 1964 (Fail Safe), before rising to the greatness of the Camelot years (NBC White Paper, 1966, as JFK). He supported another candidate in 1968 (Pat Paulsen of President), took on the presidency of a corporation in 1977 (Tentacles), and sat out a final lame-duck term in 1979 (Meteor, alas). Show me another fake president with that sort of depth!

  38. Villify Me says:

    Don’t forget Dennis Haysbert as President David Palmer from ’24’. I know it’s a tv show and not a movie but still, he was the man!

  39. Epic post there – and so relieved that Morgan Freeman was selected. I’m sure there’s one other that deserves a mention, but I can’t remember….I’ll have to get back to you on that one!

  40. Lily Wight says:

    Top choices my friend!

  41. Lily Wight says:

    Reblogged this on Lily Wight and commented:
    Mars Attacks! Is a much under-appreciated movie. Love it people, love it!

  42. aimeesw0rld says:

    Reblogged this on Aimee's World and commented:
    Exactly, we should be deciding who will give a better speech on the 21 December so there’s a good youtube video on the 22 December (not to mention there would be a lot of clips in the 2011 in review videos on the 31st) ^_^

  43. Erica says:

    Hopefully this will count…..Hugh Grant as the Prime Minister is Love Actually!

  44. i’ve only seen Independence Day, but that is an amazing speech. I also think that Morgan Freeman is one of the best actors ever. You have some good taste.
    However, I generally don’t take into account how eloquent a speaker a candidate is when I’m looking for a president. I usually look to the issues.

  45. JC Finch says:

    Morgan Freeman 2018! πŸ˜€

  46. Oh! The guy from the Allstate commercials, who was president on “24”…loved him! And Morgan Freeman is awesome. Have you noticed…all his “characters” are really just him? He never really plays a character, he plays Morgan Freeman playing Morgan Freeman acting as __________ (fill in the blank). He’s so lovable, dude gets away with it! Genius!

    Great choices, Nicholsen…what can you say?

  47. edrevets says:

    Morgan Freeman: ‘I’m so sorry to say this, but women have no more rights.”

    People of America, “Yay! Morgan Freeman’s president!”

  48. Peter Seller’s as President Merkin Muffley is quite a hoot.

  49. d1esel6 says:

    creative post!!! i love your #1…
    wasn’t there a scene where he totally went off on the military general “SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP” or something… that part ALWAYS make me LMAO! i’m gonna have to pull out that DVD thanks to you!!

  50. What about the guy in Air Force One?

  51. Marijane says:

    Loved your post – very, very funny!

  52. C says:

    +1 for harrison ford in air force one

  53. missvaleriem says:

    Of course Sellers in Dr. Strangelove, and also Grant in Love Actually.

  54. David palmer in the first series of “24”:

  55. Bill Pullman and Morgan Freeman were some of the first ‘Presidents’ i remember in film and were who i thought of even before i clicked through. Good choices!

  56. moodybluebird says:

    Totally β™₯ this…I don’t live in the US (live in UK) but I think any of those 3 could do a way better job that our current PM.

  57. Bill Pullman all the way! Great choices. πŸ™‚

  58. babelsfables says:

    Bartlet for President.

  59. gavilansalvaje says:

    I prefer Kevin Kline’s Bill Mitchell / Dave Kovic in “Dave”

  60. Hami in Japan says:

    Sooooooooooooooo glad that you put Morgan Freeman from Deep Impact on the list. The speech he does at the end is so good.

    Do have to agree with lots of the above though, where is the beautiful and wonderful Harrison Ford!!??

    Great blog πŸ™‚

  61. amukraine says:

    Great post, I think some of the actors would make a better president than most of the politics πŸ™‚

  62. minlit says:

    Ronald Regan anyone? Oh, no, hold on, that wasn’t a movie!

  63. eurotale says:

    Jed Bartlet for sure!

  64. Josh Young says:

    I have to admit, Bill Pullman was awesome as Whitmore.
    I can’t think of many others that I’ve enjoyed nearly as much, except maybe Danny Glover in 2012, that was pretty cool. πŸ™‚

  65. Max C says:

    Okay, well besides Harrison Ford in Air Force One, Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove, well “technically” not an American President, but how about some love for Battlestar Galactica’s President Laura Roslin?

  66. bestweddingdressforyou says:

    to be a leader is not an easy thing,

  67. HK Auteur says:

    Mine is Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister as in The Fifth Element.

  68. Coach Dee says:

    It’s got to be the Independence Day President. I was completely moved by the speech.

    Do Senators count? πŸ™‚
    Im watching The Fringe series now, and I like the transformation of Dr. Walter Bishop to Sen. Walter Bishop. There is this different worlds on two parallel universes, each exists this crazy-funny Doctor who likes puddings and this serious Senator who tries to destroy the other world but both are genious.

  69. fencing hire says:

    I love all of these films! I hate to say it but if anything happened let’s face it we wouldn’t all stick together which is a shame.

  70. shammee says:

    i was really impressed by the speech of (fictional)president of us from the movie independence day …..
    i mean literally impressed that i wrote the same lines in my essay (plz don’t claim copyright issues πŸ™‚ )….
    even still when i watch that scene again it gives me goosebumps …
    AWESOME !!!

  71. i think it can be agreed upon that the true test of a good president is how he reacts to
    a) alien attacks b) the end of the world or c) both
    they should address those kinds of questions in their campaigns

  72. Although its a minor role, I love the President speech in Armageddon!

  73. I have a soft spot in my heart for Kevin Kline’s “Dave.” Back in 1993 he had a good jobs plan.

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