US President Donald Trump has been immortalised on the small screen yet again, but this time it’s not in an Alec Baldwin sketch on Saturday Night Live, or a rerun of The Apprentice.
Irish actor Brendan Gleeson is donning the tangerine tan and fluffy blond combover in a drama that promises to reveal the dark, sinister circumstances that led to Mr Trump’s 2016 US election victory.
The Comey Rule, which is based on former FBI director James Comey’s memoir, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, will shine a light on everything from the Hillary Clinton email scandal to the Russian interference that culminated in Mr Trump’s success.
Oscar-nominated screenwriter Billy Ray helms the two-episode mini series, which features Jeff Daniels as Mr Comey and Holly Hunter as former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates.
The drama, set to screen on Showtime in the US on September 27, could not come at a worst time for Mr Trump – just 37 days before Americans go to the polls to decide if the property magnate will be elected for a second term.
The series was originally scheduled by ViacomCBS, parent company of Showtime, to screen after the election.
However, mounting criticism and a public letter from Ray saw ViacomCBS backpedal before finally rescheduling the series so that it would air during the heat of election season.
But finding the perfect Trump was no mean feat, with many candidates, (including Gleeson), declining the role out of fear of hostility and bitterness from the President and his vocal supporters.
“What we got were people who passed without reading,” Ray told Vanity Fair.
“They just didn’t want to be anywhere near it for reasons that I understand,” he explained.
“Because if you are a private person, like Brendan, boy, this is inviting a lot of rancour from someone who’s not shy about letting you know if he’s unhappy with something you’ve done.”
All initially apprehensive about the series, Gleeson, Daniels and the real-life Mr Comey decided the mini series would have far greater reach than the memoir would on its own.
And bringing an accessible, televised series that reflects several key messages about US political integrity was too important to pass up, particularly in the lead up to the 2020 election.
Australian viewers can also catch the series from September 27 on Stan.
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Overcombing the caricature …
The struggle for power between Mr Comey, the law-abiding FBI director who Daniels likened to a hero “caught between a rock and a hard place”, and Mr Trump, portrayed as a slippery, obnoxious character, is remarkably accurate, with Ray utilising large portions of real-life recorded dialogue in the script.
And while Ray said the series delivers “something for everyone to hate,” don’t expect any cheap shots or satire.
“There was a lot of conversation with the hair team and the make-up team and the costume team: ‘How do we accurately depict Donald Trump without making him a cartoon?’ Because so many people feel that he is one,” Ray said.
“And everywhere that we could, we dialled it down. We made the contrast between the bags under his eyes and the orange skin softer than it actually is,” he said.
“We made the hair a little less cartoonish than it actually is. We made the suits fit a little bit better. We went out of our way to play fair because we felt we owed that to the public.
“We talked a lot about where Donald Trump had a point of view that was defensible and valid, and we leaned in hard.”