By Nick Romano
July 8, 2021
Here’s to the ladies who lunch… in the White House.
Viola Davis as Michelle Obama
Showtime’s new anthology series, The First Lady, will center on the lives of various first ladies of the United States of America.
Three are at the center of the first season, one of them being Michelle Obama, who served as first lady from 2009 to 2017.
Oscar, Golden Globe, and Emmy winner Viola Davis will portray Obama on the show, which is directed by The Undoing’s Susanne Bier.
Michelle Pfeiffer as Betty Ford
Michelle Pfeiffer having just come off of the Golden Globe-nominated film French Exit, steps into the role of Betty Ford, first lady from 1974-1977 and wife of President Gerald Ford, Jr.
A description of The First Lady mentions Ford’s role as a “politically active presidential spouse” and “one of the most candid first ladies in history.” It also mentions her “long-running battle with alcoholism and substance abuse,” which suggests those will be incorporated into her story for the show.
Gillian Anderson as Eleanor Roosevelt
From #HotThatcher to #HotRoosevelt.
Gillian Anderson, who played Margaret Thatcher on The Crown, will take the third main lady role as Eleanor Roosevelt, the longestserving first lady in U.S. history.
Outspoken on civil rights, Roosevelt held regular press conferences, wrote a daily newspaper column, and hosted a weekly radio show.
Aaron Eckhart as Gerald Ford, Jr.
The Dark Knight and Thank You For Smoking star Aaron Eckhart will play Pfeiffer’s on-screen husband, President Gerald Ford, Jr.
Kiefer Sutherland as Franklin D. Roosevelt
Anderson is playing Eleanor Roosevelt, and 24 actor Kiefer Sutherland now stepping in to play her husband, Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States.
He and Eleanor, his fifth cousin, became the central figures in world events during the first half of the 20th century. In 1921, Roosevelt contracted polio, which caused his legs to become permanently paralyzed.
Judy Greer as Nancy Howe
Judy Greer will play Betty Ford’s trusted confidante and personal assistant Nancy Howe, who worked closely with the first lady. She resigned from the White House in 1975.
Greer stepped into the role after Pamela Adlon had to drop out due to a scheduling conflict.
Jayme Lawson as Michelle Obama
Jayme Lawson, who has a role in the upcoming DC film The Batman, will portray Obama in her younger years. Lawson’s debut role was in director Ekwa Msangi’s film Farewell Amor.
Raised on the South Side of Chicago, Obama graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School. She married Barack Obama in 1992.
Kristine Forseth as Betty Ford
Apostle and The Society actress Kristine Forseth will play a young Betty Ford.
Before becoming first lady, Ford studied dance as a child and later attended the Calla Travis Dance Studio, where she studied under choreographer Martha Graham. She worked as a fashion model in New York City, having moved from Chicago, to help finance her dance studies.
Rhys Wakefield as Dick Cheney
Actor Rhys Wakefield (True Detective, The Purge) will play Dick Cheney, who served as Ford’s deputy chief of staff.
Christian Bale famously portrayed Cheney in Adam McKay’s 2018 film Vice.
Aya Cash as Esther Liebowitz
The Boys and You’re the Worst star Aya Cash was cast as Ford’s press secretary, Esther Liebowitz.
Liebowitz often butted heads with the first lady for suggesting more conservative approaches than Ford wanted to embrace.
Jake Picking as Gerald Ford, Jr.
Jake Picking, who gained more notoriety for playing Rock Hudson in Netflix’s Hollywood, takes the role of young Gerald “Jerry” Ford.
An ex-football player, Ford returns from service and later meets Betty in Michigan. He marries her in 1948 just after winning his first Congressional seat.
Cayden Boyd as Michael Ford
Cayden Boyd will play Gerald and Betty’s oldest son, Michael.
Boyd has played various roles over the years, including Max in The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D , a young Angel in X-Men: The Last Stand, and a young Dean (Matthew Lillard’s character) on Good Girls.
Marc Hills as Jack Ford
Actor Marc Hills will play Gerald and Betty’s second eldest son, Jack.
Ben Cook as Steven Ford
And rounding out the Ford family is Ben Cook as Steven Ford, Gerald and Betty’s youngest son.
Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer as Martha Graham
The First Lady will definitely touch on Ford’s time as a dancer because Broadway star Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer (Beetlejuice, Something Rotten!, Hairspray!) will appear on the show as dancer extraordinaire Martha Graham.
Thomas E. Sullivan as Bill Warren Roswell
New Mexico and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. actor Thomas E. Sullivan will play Ford’s first husband, Bill Warren.
A salesman, Warren married Ford in 1942. They later divorced in 1947.
Patrice Johnson Chevannes as Clara Powel
Patrice Johnson Chevannes, who appeared in smaller roles on Pose and Shrill, will portray Ford’s nanny Clara Powell.
Powell remained one of Ford’s closest confidantes through her struggles with addiction.