Last night news broke that Carey Mulligan, the British actress who most recently played Daisy in The Great Gatsby, has become the frontrunner to play Hillary Clinton in the upcoming, buzzy biopic Rodham. It's major Hollywood news that could also have a political impact, with the movie set to come out in time for the 2016 election, meaning that whomever lands the role could help shape public opinion of Clinton. Should the hypothetical Clinton campaign be worried about the leading lady in wait?
The project has been buzzy ever since it appeared on the 2012 Hollywood Black List of screenplays. Written by Young Il Kim, the film tracks Clinton during the Watergate controversy and digs in to her early romance with Bill, which apparently leads to some scandalous bits. Indie director James Ponsoldt is on board to helm the film, and the leading role has apparently been the talk of young A-list actresses, from Emma Stone to Amanda Seyfried to Scarlett Johansson.
But according to The Wrap's Jeff Sneider there were really only two choices for the role: Mulligan and Jennifer Lawrence. Sneider reports that if Lawrence wanted the part, insiders would have found it difficult to say no. Her schedule, however, was too busy for her to appear in the film and still have it be ready in time for release before November 2016. (Unlike Lincoln or Zero Dark Thirty in 2012, this film, as a biopic of an early life before elected politics, appears to have no inhibitions about swaying political perspectives.)
But perhaps Lawrence would have been the more favorable choice for the campaign. The Oscar winner is overwhelmingly liked by fans, and brings a warm all-American energy even to some of her coldest roles. (Remember the end of Silver Linings Playbook, when she's watching the Eagles game with the whole family?) According to the parts of the screenplay The Daily Beast excerpted, the Hillary Clinton on display in Rodham actually sounds a lot like Lawrence's off-camera persona, ambitious and strong-willed, and with a propensity for cursing. (She apparently says "motherf--kin'" a lot in the film.)
Mulligan, on the other hand, seems like a bit more of a question mark in the role. Not quite as universally liked (Julie Klausner tweeted last night: "'I specialize in finding completely inappropriate roles for the professionally plain.' --Carey Mulligan's agent"), Mulligan has a coolness to her. Even when there's a sweetness inside her characters, like in her breakout film an An Education, they can be distant. (As for Mulligan in real life, her appearance recently on The Colbert Report made her the tops in our book.) Plus, there's the fact of her being British, which has led to some eye-rolling. Of course, that hasn't stopped her from playing iconic American roles, like Daisy Buchanan, and she tests out her American accent again in the Coen Brothers' latest, Inside Llewyn Davis.
Surely, Mulligan's Clinton will break out of political caricature—and the script portrays Clinton in a favorable light—but her take might not be exactly what the Clinton campaign would look for while working to get America to vote for her. Not that Hillary probably cares all that much, and not that she's even running... yet.