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Oval Office confidential

Posted by Mark Feeney  June 3, 2010 01:52 PM

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Thumbnail image for THE-SPECIAL-RELATIONSHIP-13-550x366.jpgThis gets a little complicated. Dennis Quaid plays Bill Clinton in the current HBO movie "The Special Relationship" (that's Quaid with Michael Sheen, once again playing Tony Blair, in the photograph). In 2006, Quaid starred in "American Dreamz," playing a president who was George W. Bush in everything but name. That's a photograph of Quaid, with Willem Dafoe as a very Dick Cheney-like vice president, below.

77702_dennis-quaid-in-american-dreamz.jpg Talk about one-man ideological cognitive dissonance. It makes the one-man historical cognitive dissonance of, say, Anthony Hopkins playing John Quincy Adams, in "Amistad," and Richard Nixon, in the Oliver Stone biopic, seem ho-hum by comparison.

The only actors who can rival Quaid for movie/political whiplash both lend a familial twist to the situation. Martin Sheen, before he got elected president in his own fictional right on "The West Wing," played John F. Kennedy, in the TV miniseries "Kennedy," and Robert Kennedy, in the TV movie "The Missiles of October." (If some producer casts him as Ted, he could win the Kennedy trifecta.) Then there's the father-son combination of James Brolin, who played Ronald Reagan, in the 2002 TV movie "The Reagans," and Josh Brolin, who played George W. Bush in Oliver Stone's "W." Just to bring things full circle, Barbra Streisand (Brolin wife and stepmother, respectively) is a good friend of Clinton's. No word yet on what she thinks of Quaid's performance.

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Ty Burr is a film critic with The Boston Globe.

Mark Feeney is an arts writer for The Boston Globe.

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