Stunt Casting: Jane Fonda to Play Nancy Reagan

Time truly does heal all wounds, or does it?

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

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