First, here's W:
A choice Bush ought to be flattered by, but not much in common physically. It'll be interesting to see whether Brolin opts to do an immersive, quasi-Method approach to the role a la Anthony Hopkins' portrayal of Nixon, or more of a version of Bush that will be recognizable enough for audiences to suspend disbelief -- kinda like Travolta playing a Clinton-like character in "Primary Colors." That inevitable first photograph of Brolin in his W getup is going to be very telling on this score.
Now, the long-suffering Laura:
If it were anyone but Laura Bush, I might wonder whether Elizabeth Banks had enough range to portray a living person, but I don't think there's a whole lot going on beneath the surface with Laura Bush, so hiring a Meryl Streep-quality actress to take on the role doesn't seem necessary. Banks should do fine.
And no Bush family would be complete without its matriarch. Here's Barb:
Ellen Burstyn is, for my money, the best actress of her generation. Her performance in "Requiem for a Dream" is all heartbreaking and tragic and scary and all that stuff that makes acting good. The only thing I don't think she can do as an actress is a southern accent (for evidence, please review "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood." On second though, don't do that.) This is great casting. Almost as good as...
Stone's choice for Bush the Elder:
James Cromwell's played a version of H.W. Bush in "The Sum of all Fears" (and he also happens to bear a distinct physical resemblance to the guy), and he's accustomed to playing cranky patriarchs, so this is a natural choice. I'm sure he'll be great.
Here's an excerpt from an interview Stone gave to Variety about the movie, which actually does shed light on some of the questions I asked above:
"It's a behind-the-scenes approach, similar to 'Nixon,' to give a sense of what it's like to be in his skin," Stone told Daily Variety. "But if 'Nixon' was a symphony, this is more like a chamber piece, and not as dark in tone. People have turned my political ideas into a cliche, but that is superficial. I'm a dramatist who is interested in people, and I have empathy for Bush as a human being, much the same as I did for Castro, Nixon, Jim Morrison, Jim Garrison and Alexander the Great."Sounds like Stone understands something about what makes Bush's story interesting, but "Frank Capra territory" seems way too whimsical a way to describe a film about a guy's rise from coddled trust-fund manchild to president and war criminal; I know Stone's trying to be careful not to get the wingnuts telling people to avoid the movie before he's even shot a foot of film, but seriously. Frank Capra?
Stone declined to give his personal opinion of the president."I can't give you that, because the filmmaker has to hide in the work," Stone said. "Here, I'm the referee, and I want a fair, true portrait of the man. How did Bush go from an alcoholic bum to the most powerful figure in the world? It's like Frank Capra territory on one hand, but I'll also cover the demons in his private life, his bouts with his dad and his conversion to Christianity, which explains a lot of where he is coming from. It includes his belief that God personally chose him to be president of the United States, and his coming into his own with the stunning, preemptive attack on Iraq. It will contain surprises for Bush supporters and his detractors."
Obviously I'm hoping the film (tentatively titled "W") is closer in quality to "Nixon" than "Alexander," but I think it's going to make big money at the box office no matter what. As much as the guy repulses about 3/4 of the country, I think most Americans, whether they care to admit it or not, find him fascinating. Repugnant, yes, but fascinating.