Premium cable has increasingly made a cottage industry out of dramatizing very recent historical events, starting with HBO's Recount and Game Change, and continuing with Showtime's The Loudest Voice last summer. Showtime is back at it this week with The Comey Rule.
Tracking the events of James Comey's FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's email servers, and continuing into the early days of Donald Trump's time in the White House, the two-night miniseries comes from writer/director Billy Ray (Shattered Glass), and features an all-star collection of familiar faces playing familiar names. Wondering which actors are playing which pivotal figures in recent American history? You've come to the right place.
The FBI director who many feel swung the 2016 presidential election when he re-opened the case into Hillary Clinton's email server shortly before the election is played by Jeff Daniels. The longtime film and TV actor won an Emmy award in 2013 for his role as TV news iconoclast Will McAvoy on Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom, and won again in 2018 for the Netflix western Godless. He's also a prolific film actor, having appeared in films like Something Wild, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Speed, Dumb and Dumber, and The Squid and the Whale.
Irish actor Brendan Gleeson will be the latest actor to take on the task of playing Donald Trump. From the looks of the trailer, Gleeson's impersonation is bordering on the uncanny, which feels just about right. While it's deeply unnecessary to explain who Donald Trump is at this point, suffice it to say he's the thrice-married, multi-time-bankrupt star of The Apprentice and Home Alone 2 who finished in second place to Hillary Clinton in the popular vote in 2016. Gleeson, meanwhile, is a three-time Golden Globe-nominated actor who won an Emmy in 2009 for playing Winston Churchill in HBO's Into the Storm. He's starred in films like 28 Days Later, In Bruges, and Troy, and he played "Mad-Eye" Moody in the Harry Potter films.
Michael Kelly is a four-time Emmy nominee for his role as chief-of-staff Doug Stamper on Netflix's House of Cards. He's been in films like Man of Steel and Everest, TV shows like Jack Ryan, and holds the distinction of having played three separate characters on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. He'll be playing Andrew McCabe, who served as Deputy Director of the FBI under Jim Comey, then served as acting director after Comey was fired.
Portraying James Comey's wife, Patrice, is actress Jennifer Ehle. Probably best known for playing Elizabeth Bennett in the 1995 BBC version of Pride & Prejudice opposite Colin Firth, Ehle has also starred in Contagion, Zero Dark Thirty, and as Dakota Johnson's mother in all three Fifty Shades of Grey films.
Academy Award-winner Holly Hunter steps into the role of Sally Yates, who was Deputy Attorney General during the Obama administration and then acting attorney general for all of ten days in the Trump administration, before she was fired for resisting the anti-Muslim travel ban. In Holly Hunter, The Comey Rule gains its utmost gravitas. Not only has Hunter won an Oscar for The Piano, she's also excelled in films like Broadcast News, Raising Arizona, and The Firm. More recently, she received acclaim for her roles in the film The Big Sick and in the second season of HBO's Succession.
More than just being the special prosecutor assigned to investigate the Trump campaigns illegal dealings with Russian operators, Robert Mueller was also Jim Comey's predecessor as FBI director. In the Mueller role is Peter Coyote, whose 30-year acting career has included memorable roles in E.T., Erin Brockovich, and A Walk to Remember, in addition to lending his memorably authoritative voice to dozens of narrator roles.
Strzok was the FBI agent placed in charge of the counterespionage investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server. He later would play a significant role in Robert Mueller's investigation into Trump and the Russians, though he got fired after text messages surfaced that he had been privately critical of Trump. He'll be played by stage and screen star Steven Pasquale, who's probably best known for his role on the FX drama Rescue Me. His other TV roles have included an arc as a campaign strategist on The Good Wife and the role of racist cop Mark Fuhrman on The People v. O.J. Simpson. On stage, Pasquale originated the male lead role in The Light in the Piazza and The Bridges of Madison County, starring in the Broadway production of the latter.
As Lisa Page, the FBI agent whose text messages with Peter Strzok talking shit about Donald Trump caused a huge controversy, is actress Oona Chaplin, who is best known for playing Talisa Stark, the ill-fated pregnant wife of Robb Stark, for whom the Red Wedding was a real bummer.
Rosenstein was the Deputy Attorney General at the beginning of the Trump administration. He assumed control of the FBI investigation after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself, and he appointed Robert Mueller as special prosecutor. Playing him will be Scoot McNairy, the character actor from movies like Argo, 12 Years a Slave, and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. On television, his best role was in the underappreciated AMC series Halt and Catch Fire; he also had a major role on the third season of True Detective.
In the role of Michael Flynn, Trump's former National Security Advisor, who later plead guilty to lying to the Mueller investigation about his dealings with Russian agents, is veteran character actor William Sadler. While Sadler's name may not be immediately familiar, you'll likely recognize him from one of his many roles in films like The Mist and TV shows like Roswell. He played the villain opposite Bruce Willis in Die Hard 2, the Grim Reaper in Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (and again this year in Bill & Ted Face the Music), and he's played the President of the United States multiple times within the Marvel universe.
T.R. Knight is still best known for his role in the original cast of Grey's Anatomy. George O'Malley was the show's overmatched intern whose early professional struggles and constant romantic blunders drove multiple seasons. And of course there was the much-covered behind-the-scenes strife after co-star Isaiah Washington used an anti-gay slur on set towards Knight, who is gay. After George was (memorably) written out of the show, he appeared for an arc on The Good Wife and in the ABC miniseries about the marriage-equality movement, When We Rise. Knight plays Reince Priebus, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee who served as chief of staff to the Trump administration for the first seven months.
British actor Kingsley Ben-Adir is probably best known for his roles as Colonel Ben Younger on Peaky Blinders, as private investigator Karim Washington on the second season of The O.A., and as Mac on High Fidelity. He also plays Malcolm X in the feature film directing debut of Regina King One Night in Miami, which is currently making the festival rounds in Venice and Toronto, and is set for a release via Amazon. In The Comey Rule, he plays President Barack Obama.
The Comey Rule premieres on Showtime September 27th at 9:00 PM ET
Joe Reid is the Managing Editor at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, The Herald Sun, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.
TOPICS: The Comey Rule, Showtime, Brendan Gleeson, Holly Hunter, Jeff Daniels, Jennifer Ehle, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Michael Kelly, Oona Chaplin, Peter Coyote, Scoot McNairy, Steven Pasquale, T.R. Knight, William Sadler