First look–Bill Murray reaches again for Oscar, this time as FDR

Bill Murray as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt?

No matter how many dramatic roles Bill Murray gets behind him, fans of his big comedic roles in Caddyshack, Stripes, Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, and Scrooged will always have a double take when he tries something new–even after notable dramatic turns in a pile of Wes Anderson movies including The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and an Oscar-worthy performance in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation.  But an iconic role like FDR?  It may make sense in the context of Hyde Park on Hudson, an irreverent look at arguably the best and most revered President in U.S. history.  But every major figure must have his/her scandal movie.

This time it is FDR in his later years with a fling with one of his cousins–one of his cousins that was not his wife and fifth cousin, Eleanor, the First Lady.  Margaret Suckley, played by Laura Linney, was FDR’s sixth cousin, and became his mistress, and that intersection of that relationship with the visit of King George VI and his wife to America is the focus of the film.  Check out Bill Murray as FDR in this preview:

Along with Oscar buzz for Murray one standout from the trailer is the attractive actress Olivia Williams as the matronly Eleanor Roosevelt, a distance from her roles in The Postman, Rushmore, The Sixth Sense, and Dollhouse.  She looks to be someone who would be an interesting choice for a full-length film about the life of the interesting First Lady, but early release information indicates her role is not a focus of the film.

Early reviews are mixed for this one, praised by some reviewers and slashed by others well in advance of its national release.  Murray has another uphill battle for Oscar since the Academy tends to ignore comedic actors in dramatic roles, as can be seen with former Saturday Night Live not-ready-for-primetime-player Steve Martin in some of his most critically acclaimed serious roles.

Hyde Park on Hudson opens in theaters on Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, 2012.

C.J. Bunce

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