Showtime’s 10-episode anthology series “The First Lady” premieres on April 17, taking us into the lives of three of the famous women who held the position in the past: Eleanor Roosevelt (Gillian Anderson), Betty Ford (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Michelle Obama (Viola Davis).
Through the lens of these three ladies, viewers will also see bits of their husbands’ terms as presidents, but instead of focusing on the presidencies themselves, the show dives deep into the women’s lives both before and during their time as leaders of the East Wing in the White House. Each woman made the position uniquely her own, bringing fierce energy to administrations that tried to tell them exactly how to behave.
Here's the cast that brings “The First Lady” characters to life onscreen:
Michelle Obama (Viola Davis)
Michelle Obama, wife of the first Black President of the United States Barack Obama, had her own illustrious career long before she met Barack. Davis plays the adult version of Michelle, who supports Barack’s ambitions, but isn't without her own. She also mothers Sasha and Malia, determined to be present and raise them despite their presidential predicament. Davis is known for roles like Annelise Keating in the ABC series “How to Get Away with Murder," the film "The Help" and her Oscar-winning turn in "Fences."
Eleanor Roosevelt (Gillian Anderson)
Gillian Anderson portrays Eleanor Roosevelt, the determined and plucky wife of Franklin Delano Roosevelt who coined the quote “Women are like teabags. You never know how strong they are until you put them in hot water.” Anderson is fresh off of portraying Margaret Thatcher in “The Crown.” She also played Jean Milburn, Otis’ mother, in Netflix’s “Sex Education" and of course co-starred in "The X-Files."
Betty Ford (Michelle Pfeiffer)
Michelle Pfeiffer plays Betty Ford, who had quite an unexpected term as First Lady after her husband Gerald Ford was chosen by President Nixon, who then resigned after the Watergate Scandal. Pfeiffer’s Ford is not afraid to share her thoughts on any and all matters. She supports her husband’s sudden skyrocket into the Oval Office, but she has to come to terms with it. Pfeiffer is known for early career roles like Elvira in “Scarface” (1983) and Catwoman in "Batman Returns" (1992). More recently, she has played Marvel’s Janet Van Dyne in “Ant-Man and The Wasp” (2018).
Barack Obama (OT Fagbenle)
O-T Fagbenle plays a convincing adult Barack Obama, down to the voice tone and inflection. His Obama is already a father of their two daughters, and hot on the campaign for his first term as presidency. He and Michelle have some deep, heated and intense conversations — sometimes arguments — about what they want their lives to look like. Fagbenle has recently landed some big roles like that of Mason in 2021’s “Black Widow,” Cameron Lautner in 2022’s “WeCrashed.” He also plays Luke Bankole in “The Handmaid’s Tale” (2017-2022).
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Kiefer Sutherland)
Kiefer Sutherland plays adult FDR, right as he comes down with polio and loses most of the mobility in his legs. Sutherland accompanies Anderson in portraying the 32nd presidential couple. Sutherland is the son of actor Donald Sutherland, and he is most known for the TV show “24” (2001-2010). He starred in “After Alice” (2000) as Mickey Hayden and “Phone Booth” (2002) as The Caller. Sutherland has also starred in TV shows like “Touch” (2012-2013) as Martin Bohm and “Designated Survivor” (2016-2019) as Tom Kirkman.
Gerald Ford (Aaron Eckhart)
Aaron Eckhart plays Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States, as he learns he has been nominated by Nixon to be Vice President, and then later takes the helm as President when Nixon resigns following Watergate. Eckhart starred as George in “Erin Brockovich” (2000) alongside Julia Roberts, Harvey Dent in “The Dark Knight” (2008) and Howie in “Rabbit Hole” (2010).
Susan Elizabeth Ford (Dakota Fanning)
Susan Elizabeth Ford is the daughter of Betty and Gerald. She herself is a young adult by the time her father becomes President, and she accompanies her mother on some of her tasks outside of the White House. Ms. Ford went on to become a photojournalist and author, and she even served a term as Chair of the Betty Ford Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse. Fanning has starred in films since she was a child including “Charlotte’s Web” (2006) as Fern, “Dreamer” (2005) as Cale Crane and “The Cat in the Hat” (2003) as Sally. More recently, Fanning has held roles like Jane in the “Twilight” franchise and Squeaky Fromme in “Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood” (2019).
Young Betty Ford (Kristine Froseth)
Kristine Froseth portrays Betty before she marries Gerald Ford, and before they even start seeing each other. Before her life as First Lady, Betty was a dancer and dance instructor, and she even married once before Gerald. Her first husband, William G. Warren, was an alcoholic, and his abusive behavior towards Betty brought her to divorce him later on. Early in her career Betty also modeled clothing and worked for sales in various department stores. Froseth is known for her role of Alaska Young in Hulu’s “Looking for Alaska” (2019) and Veronica in Netflix’s “Sierra Burgess Is a Loser” (2018).
Young Michelle Obama (Jayme Lawson)
Jayme Lawson plays young Michelle Obama, highlighting the moments she gets into Princeton University for undergrad, visits her parents while she is in law school at Harvard and especially when she is working at the law firm where she meets young Barack Obama. Lawson recently played Bella Reál in 2022’s “The Batman.”
Young Eleanor Roosevelt (Eliza Scanlen)
When she was younger, Eleanor Roosevelt was sent to boarding school where she spoke mostly in French. Scanlen shows her interacting with President Theodore Roosevelt, and also when she meets her fifth distant cousin and soon-to-be husband Franklin D. Roosevelt (Charlie Plummer) at her social debut ball. Scanlen has starred in “Sharp Objects” (2018) as Amma Crellin, “Babyteeth” (2019) as Milla and “Little Women” (2019) as Beth March.
Young Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Charlie Plummer)
Charlie Plummer plays a young FDR who meets Eleanor Roosevelt at her debutante ball. Plummer starred alongside Kristine Froseth as Miles ‘Pudge’ Halter in “Looking for Alaska” (2019) and co-starred in "Spontaneous" (2020).
Young Gerald Ford (Jake Picking)
Young Gerald Ford shares many moments with young Betty as well. He calls on her while she is married, thanks to friend Peg (Shannon Purser aka Barb from "Stranger Things"). Picking has starred in the TV miniseries “Hollywood” (2020) and has a role in the upcoming "Top Gun: Maverick."
Malia Obama (Lexi Underwood)
Lexi Underwood plays an older Malia Obama, the eldest of the Obama daughters. Underwood has starred in Hulu’s “Little Fires Everywhere” (2020) as Pearl and Netflix’s “Family Reunion” (2019-2022) as Ava.
Sasha Obama (Saniyya Sidney)
Sidney plays the younger Obama sister when she is older. Sidney has previously starred in "King Richard" (2021), "Fences" (2016), "Hidden Figures (2016) and "American Horror Story" (2016).