Greatest human being alive Bill Murray has been earning a plethora of advanced raves for his performance as Franklin Roosevelt in "Hyde Park on Hudson," and it could be the kind of buzz that carries the funnyman to another well-deserved Oscar-nomination.
He's not alone in being a comic mastermind playing POTUS, though, as we've dug up these dozen dudes who have managed to walk proudly during "Hail to the Chief" without slipping on any banana peels… mostly. Below, a list of funnymen who've played both real and fictional presidents on the big screen.
Paul Giamatti as John Adams in 'John Adams' (2008)
Of course it would take a British guy (Tom Hooper of "The King's Speech" and this Christmas's "Les Miserables") to craft a truly masterful look at the down and dirty history of America's birth during the Revolution, through the construction of a White House built by slaves on a swamp. In the middle of it all is Adams, played with eccentric conviction by Giamatti, whose fierce power and intelligence is a revelation, and makes the 8-hour $100-million-dollar Emmy-winner go by like it was 5-minutes long.
Brendan Fraser as Abraham Lincoln in 'Bedazzled' (2000)
Although it's less of a portrayal and more of a brief punchline, Fraser went all-out for his two-minute stint as Honest Abe. Using one of his seven wishes, he asks Satan (Elizabeth Hurley, natch) if he can become an inspiring figure, the President of the United States, so he can do some good. Inevitably, she transforms him into Lincoln on that fateful night at Ford's Theater. Seeing as Fraser is playing a dorky dude inhabiting Lincoln, and not the man himself, it's hard to compare him with Daniel Day-Lewis, but we're gonna go out on a limb and say Day-Lewis probably drew 90% of his inspiration from this film. Just a guess.
Robin Williams as Theodore Roosevelt in 'Night at the Museum' (2006)
As our most robust, man's man POTUS, Teddy Roosevelt famously said "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far." That advice does not apply to Robin Williams, who apparently interpreted that quote as "Yell loudly and chew the scenery; you will get a big paycheck." Williams played Roosevelt, or at least a museum recreation of him, in this family-oriented Ben Stiller vehicle and its sequel (What we really want to see is Mrs. Doubtfire charging up San Juan Hill.)
Randy Quaid as Lyndon B. Johnson in 'LBJ: The Early Years' (1987)
Before Quaid went full-tilt-boogie into crazytown, he was one of our favorite comedic character actors, but he's proven his dramatic range in plenty of roles too ("Brokeback Mountain," "The Last Detail") including this Golden Globe-winning turn as JFK's controversial successor. It chronicles his early days as a congressman, then senator, all the way up to Kennedy in a casket. Gay icon/Tony-winner Patti LuPone shines as Lady Bird Johnson
Greg Kinnear as John F. Kennedy in 'The Kennedys' (2011)
While Randy Quaid got the Globe for LBJ, Kinnear had to settle for a lousy Emmy Nomination for this 8-part Canadian television event. The former "Talk Soup" host-turned-Oscar nominee for "As Good As It Gets" has had some ups-and-downs in his career, but he's always kinda been there. With a father who was a diplomat, Kinnear fit naturally into the political dynasty that was the Kennedy's, and didn't embarrass himself too much with that New Englander accent thicker than "chowda."
Kelsey Grammer as George Washington in 'Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor' (2003)
This is one of those no-brainer castings you wish you'd thought of before they did. Grammer may have spent two decades as Dr. Fraser Crane, but as soon as you see him in that tri-corner hat it's like he just chopped down the cherry tree yesterday. Our first President and founding father is torn when his favorite student, hated turncoat Arnold (Aiden Quinn), defects to the English army. Washington faces a moral conundrum that would vex even Sideshow Bob.
Dan Aykroyd as President William Haney in 'My Fellow Americans' (1996)
Back in the mind-nineties, before he'd desecrated "The Blues Brothers" and Crystal Head Vodka was only a germ of an idea, Dan Aykroyd still had an eighth of a shred of comedic credibility. Thus, the 44-year-old was cast as the "youth appeal" alongside old fogies James Garner and Jack Lemmon in what is essentially "Grumpy Old Presidents." His President Haney is at the center of a plot to frame Lemmon's former Republican Pres in a scandal, but no ghosts are involved.
Alan Alda as The President in 'Canadian Bacon' (1995)
Michael Moore may be a documentary provocateur extraordinaire, but his feature filmmaking chops were pretty rusty in his so-far only attempt at fictional comedy. In this tone-deaf satire, Alda plays a typically Alda-esque milquetoast President who seeks to bolster sagging approval ratings by starting an unprovoked war with Canada. John Candy is the one-man-army who leads this crusade against the Canucks, but the funnyman deserved better from his final film role. A strikingly similar premise was executed with far more flair in Barry Levinson's "Wag the Dog."
Lloyd Bridges as President Thomas "Tug" Benson in 'Hot Shots! Part Deux' (1993)
Lloyd Bridges has produced many funny things over the course of his career, not least of which is Jeff Bridges, but he got to go full-tilt into Leslie Neilson territory with the Tug Benson character in Jim Abrahams' "Hot Shots" movies. In the sequel, he gets upgraded from Admiral to President, and while he might not have a molecule in that head of his, he DOES get to have a lightsaber fight with Saddam Hussein.
Peter Sellers as President Merkin Muffley in 'Dr. Strangelove'(1964)
Because a comedic genius the caliber of Peter Sellers played three different roles in perhaps the most brilliant satire ever filmed, it tends to be broken down simply as "Peter Sellers is hilarious in 'Dr. Strangelove.'" However, once you get past the perverse seig heiling title character, and the buttoned down British Captain Mandrake, the character really rounding out those two polar-opposite extremes is his egg-head President Muffley. The pragmatic but slow-witted character is 100 percent robotic bureaucrat (based on Adlai Stevenson), and his phonecall to the Soviet premier is the stuff of legend. "Demetri… Demetri…"
Chris Rock as President Mays Gilliam in 'Head of State' (2003)
For his first outing as director, comedy bad boy Chris Rock chose the "outlandish" concept of a black man running for President. In true "Bulworth" tradition he feels he has no chance, so simply speaks his mind on every topic, which of course makes him wildly popular and ultimately garners him the Presidency… and a place on Mount Rushmore. There's all kinds of predictable culture clash, including a bunch of old white folks dancing to Nelly, but Rock's heart is in the right place and the late Bernie Mac shines as his brother/running mate.