Obama on the big screen: Will Smith has the ears for it, but are there any other contenders?

Talk has been floating around for a while now about Will Smith potentially playing Barack Obama in an upcoming movie about his life. This is jumping the gun big time, since no such movie has even been rumoured to exist (let alone confirmed) but the buzz was started by Obama himself, who made a comment a while back when he selected Smith as the person most suitable to play him - “because he has the ears”.

Smith is the obvious choice. He’s famous, relatively close to Obama in the looks department and has moved away from the lightheaded roles that characterised his earlier work in TV’s Fresh Prince of Bel Air and movies like Independence Day and Men in Black. This got me thinking: is Will Smith the only famous African American who could feasibly take the role, and if they auditioned for it, which other Hollywood celebs might contend? Martin Lawrence? Nah - too diminutive; too capricious. Morgan Freeman? Too old. Bernie Mac? Too absolutely hilarious. Michael Clarke Duncan? Too big. Eddie Murphy? Too busy making crappy kids movies. Denzel Washington? Again, too old. Michael Jackson? OK, I'm being silly now.

Aside from Smith the most suitable person I can think of is…drum roll…Chris Rock. Hear me out: he’s a gamble, sure, especially considering we’ve seen no evidence that he can act dramatically - unless Rock has under his belt some weepie verite performance in an obscure festival film I don’t know about, which let’s face it is highly unlikely - but every comedic actor is entitled to at least try a meaty role on for size, and you never know - he just might come through with the goods. Hell, Chris Rock isn’t such an outrageous choice considering Will Smith was once viewed as a frivolous lightweight celeb himself, and it wasn’t until 2001 that he started developing serious cred, when his role in Michael Mann’s Ali (2001) set this new career phase in motion. Chris Rock’s upcoming performance in Obama (or Yes We Can: The Barack Obama Story) could provide the necessary springboard to an Oscar-honoured, comedy-to-drama, laughs-to-lauds, critically acclaimed career. He’d have to ditch the stand up routine and the yappy voice, at least temporarily, but them’s the brakes. Get Michael Mann onboard and we got ourselves a movie.

Imagine Rock sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office in a schmick suit in a tie, looking all statesman like, preparing for an address to the nation, and maybe you can see where I’m coming from.

Of course, if Chris Rock is destined to star in a movie about Obama, he is, at it stands, much more likely to feature in one of a different nature (think Half Baked or The Pineapple Express) This upcoming nonexistent Obamapic could derive its title from one of Obama’s classic quips, delivered after he was asked whether had had tried marijuana and if so, whether he inhaled. Thus the movie could be titled ‘I inhaled. That was the point.’


  1. As well as being too hilarious, Bernie Mac would probably be a bit on the bugle, what with him being a corpse and all.
    Just a thought.

  2. Dear god - I must have missed the memo.

    I read that he died in August '08 at age 50. That's sad. RIP Bernie - you were, perhaps, too absolutely hilarious.

  3. don't ditch the Bernie idea just cos he's dead - make it 'weekend at the whitehouse'! with Chris Rock as Obama and Bernie Mac as himself - it's weekend at bernies for the politically minded!