The Memo: An HBO Special
What if the Trump-Russia story literally became the overdramatic TV show it basically already is?
Welcome to 2019! President Mike Pence has just issued an executive order banning “real men” from wearing the color pink, Father John Misty has just released a double album with Miley Cyrus but no one knows why, and the most popular animated movie of the year is “Buds,” a DreamWorks Studios film about the secret life of your headphones when they’re shoved in your pocket. Yes, although things are still a little weird here in America, the dust has mostly settled since Trump resigned from office after he looked himself hard in the mirror one day and gained a self-concept, but one thing that hasn’t changed about our society is our undying love for dramatic TV mini-series on subscription-only streaming sites. One set for release next week just in time for summer is called “The Memo: The Story of Trump and Russia.” It details the events of the early Trump administration, with a special focus on the FBI’s investigation into potential ties with Russia. None of us have seen it yet, time traveller from 2017, so we can’t tell you too much about it, but we can tell you a little about the cast.
Kaitlin Olson as…Kellyanne Conway
Why the producers chose her: Olson looks like Kellyanne Conway if Kellyanne Conway never got into politics. They also needed an actress that the audience could generally distrust and come to dislike fairly quickly. Anyone who has watched more than five minutes of the classic raunchy sitcom It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia knows that Olson can pull off being deceitful and mean.
John Goodman as…Steve Bannon
Why the producers chose him: Goodman can possess the large, gruff and sometimes darkly intelligent aesthetic Bannon gives off. The very mention or sight of Bannon, a reminder of his prominence in the White House, was fear-inducing to much of the public, so with Goodman’s booming voice and powerful presence, he will be a looming background threat on the show.
Tobey Maguire as…Paul Ryan
Why the producers chose him: Maguire was an easy choice to play Paul Ryan. Both Ryan and Maguire tend to over-act when they are provided the opportunity to do so, and Maguire brings the shifty, twerpy nervousness that has come to define the Speaker. And just look at those blue eyes.
Rainn Wilson as…Sean Spicer
Why the producers chose him: The casting of Wilson for the role of Sean Spicer was surprising and controversial for a number of reasons: 1. They look nothing alike. 2. The petition for Melissa McCarthy to play Spicer in the series was the most-signed petition of 2018 (even more than the one to reinstate Maryland into the United States after Trump excommunicated it) and 3. Rainn Wilson does not exactly have a reputation as a “serious” actor for serious roles. However, the producers figured that in the early days of the Trump administration, it was difficult to separate Spicer from the comedy that surrounded his reputation, as his briefings were often mocked and quickly turned into memes. The producers also saw Dwight Schrute, with his mix of condescension and lack of self-awareness, as an excellent model for their Spicer character.
Keebler Elf as…Jeff Sessions
Why the producers chose him: It wasn’t so much a question of “how could they choose the Keebler Elf to play Jeff Sessions,” but rather “how could they not.”
Liam Neeson as…FBI Director James Comey
Why the producers chose him: Neeson is known for his roles as a rugged, independent-thinking, but sometimes imperfect individualist (even his role in the Lego Movie somewhat confirmed this archetype). The show wanted to present Comey as a foil to their President Trump, someone who could be seen as serious in their role of leading the highest law enforcement agency in the country. We’re all as excited as we are nervous to see how he pulls an American accent off.
Scarlett Johansson as…Ivanka Trump
Why the producers chose her: The producers were worried about choosing actors that had portrayed their characters in SNL before…Johansson had done a skit as Ivanka advertising a new perfume line called “Complicit.” But since the skit didn’t become canon but proved Scarlett could look and play the part, they decided it wasn’t too much of a factor. Scarlett can also play the very smooth talking put-together femme fatale who can be mysterious and oddly comforting at the same time.
Dane DeHaan as…Jared Kushner
Why the producers chose him: For Kushner, a very prominent but mostly unknown entity, the producers had two choices; go for someone to look like a normal white guy in a suit who doesn’t say much, or choose someone who embodies more mystery and maybe even a little nefariousness. The producers chose the latter, opting for DeHaan, who still brings a Rich Boy Who Worked For Dad’s Company vibe, but in a more vaguely creepy and less trustworthy way.
????? as…Tiffany Trump
The producers simply forgot to cast this role and are looking for people willing to fill it on *very* short notice. Producers insist it will not take long at all to film her parts, if you are interested and available.
Sarah Paulson as…Sally Yates
Why the producers chose her: Sarah Paulson is one of the most versatile actresses of our time at her peak, and demonstrated her competency within a legal setting in The People vs. O.J. Simpson. Yates was a strong female role in the early Trump administration regarding her brazen honesty and willingness to stand up to a man who likes to punish his enemies, and Paulson will bring that serious but energetic air to the role.
Mahershala Ali as…Barack Obama
Why the producers chose him: Ali can express both the natural coolness and frustrated confidence of Obama. Rumors say that the Obama character’s only appearance in the series will be of him waterskiing and drinking Piña Coladas.
Julianne Moore as…Hillary Clinton
Why the producers chose her: Whoever played Clinton had to be a versatile actress that could capture her in a post-defeat moment of pain but also of public restraint. Moore has demonstrated the ability to capture great emotional depth and do so with subtlety.
Joe Biden as…Joe Biden
Why the producers chose him: Biden insisted on playing himself in the show because, and I quote, “that would be bitchin’”
Steve Carell as…Mike Pence
Why the producers chose him: Since leaving The Office, Carell has shown magnificent capability as a serious actor, one who could play controversial characters that span a lot of different spectrums. But his best role is that of the plain, non-confrontational, humorless but fairly likable dad that Pence truly is.
And Kevin Spacey as…Donald Trump
Why the producers chose him: It was clear from the beginning…there was no right person to play this role. For one thing, no one really looks, speaks, and acts like Donald Trump or anything close to it. Like, not within a mile. So while Spacey wasn’t exactly a doppelgänger, there wasn’t really one of those out there to begin with. But beyond that, this was one of the most important roles of this decade in television, and whoever took on the role had to be able to get the Donald Trump movements, tone, and idiosyncrasies down to pat without mocking them (sorry, Baldwin). The actor also needed a sense of the tragicomic — he has to capture that there was something inherently farcical and ostensibly satirical to the chaos of Trump, but enveloping that was the danger and corruption that surrounded someone like him being in the most powerful position on Earth. Spacey’s sense of humor is fairly cynical, sarcastic, and dark, and would add the perfect flair of grim ridiculousness to an atmosphere of drama and intrigue. It’s also worth noting that he plays a corrupt President on Netflix already (I know that means he probably wouldn’t get picked for the role just humor me for my dumb listicle).
Here is the trailer for the first season: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUTVmuqviqE