Who would have guessed in the 1980s, when Jane Fonda was strutting around in leotards while still riding high from her 1970s anti-Vietnam War activism that earned her the nickname Hanoi Jane, that she would play Ronald Reagan’s wife Nancy in a movie?
The movie is “The Butler” and looks to be a fascinating portrait of a White House butler, Eugene Allen, who served under 8 presidents. An African-American hired to the White House staff in 1952, he experienced Jim Crow and the Civil Rights movement, even as he had a front-row seat to history. Retiring after 32 years at the executive mansion, he was brought back to watch President Obama be sworn in as the nation’s first African-American president.Great story. I’m looking forward to the movie.
One can’t help but feel, however, that Jane Fonda’s casting is a publicity stunt. Frankly, it’s hard to imagine Fonda playing Reagan as anything but a caricature. Vietnam was a long time ago, before my time, but the actress has been vocal about her leftist politics in the decades since, although she did apologize for her most egregious Vietnam-era behavior in 2005. The casting of a outspoken left-wing actress in the role of a beloved conservative icon feels like a bit of a “nah nah nah” to people on the right.
A fantastic story such as Mr. Allen’s deserves better than stunt casting like this.
Photo: The Hollywood Reporter