Showtime has found its first president for its upcoming anthology series on presidential wives, “The First Lady.” Aaron Eckhart will portray Gerald Ford, the 38th U.S. president.
Eckhart joins Michelle Pfeiffer, who was cast earlier this month to play Ford’s wife, Betty.
The series is described as an exploration of the lives of “America’s charismatic, complex and dynamic First Ladies,” according to Showtime. The first season will center on three former occupants of the White House: Michelle Obama, Betty Ford and Eleanor Roosevelt. Viola Davis will play Obama, while the role of Eleanor Roosevelt has not yet been cast.
Susanne Bier will direct the entire first season.
Gerald Ford was the first person to hold the office of both vice president and president despite never being elected to either office. A former football player turned congressman, Ford was appointed as Richard Nixon’s VP after Spiro Agnew’s resignation in 1973, then assumed the presidency when Nixon resigned a year later. He was defeated by Jimmy Carter in the 1976 election and had the shortest tenure of any president who did not die while in office.
Pfeiffer’s Betty Ford set a precedent as a politically active presidential spouse and is described by the network as “one of the most candid first ladies in history, commenting on every hot-button issue of the time.” Ford was known for speaking publicly about her battles with alcoholism and substance abuse.
“First Ladies” is executive produced by Cathy Schulman via Welle Entertainment, Viola Davis and Julius Tennon via JuVee Productions, Jeff Gaspin via Gaspin Media, Brad Kaplan via LINK Entertainment and Aaron Cooley.
Deadline first reported on Eckhart’s casting.