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Ed Harris To Play John McCain To Julianne Moore's Sarah Palin In HBO's 'Game Change'

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com March 24, 2011 at 2:14AM

For politics buffs, or really anyone, the 2008 election campaign provided an enormous amount of drama. The twists and turns, from Barack Obama's surprise victory at the Iowa caucuses and the tanking of Rudolph Guiliani's campaign to the death of Obama's grandmother on the eve of his election, gripped the world across the year like it was the best ever season of "The West Wing," so it's no surprise that it would receive big-screen treatment sooner rather than later.
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For politics buffs, or really anyone, the 2008 election campaign provided an enormous amount of drama. The twists and turns, from Barack Obama's surprise victory at the Iowa caucuses and the tanking of Rudolph Guiliani's campaign to the death of Obama's grandmother on the eve of his election, gripped the world across the year like it was the best ever season of "The West Wing," so it's no surprise that it would receive big-screen treatment sooner rather than later.

Jay Roach, who helmed the 2000 election tale "Recount" for HBO, has reunited with the writer of that film, Danny Strong, for "Game Change," which is gearing up to shoot, again for HBO, with Tom Hanks' company Playtone recently coming on board to help produce. The film, based on the best-seller by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, will track the election on both sides, seemingly with a particular focus on the endlessly fascinating relationship between Republican nominee Senator John McCain, and his surprise pick for running mate, Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin.

Julianne Moore joined the project two weeks ago as Palin, and now it looks like the film's found its McCain; according to Deadline, Ed Harris has been cast in the role. The actor, who's just wrapped a role in the Sam Worthington vehicle "Man on a Ledge" has had success with the network before, picking up an Emmy nomination for "Empire Falls" a few years back, and it's another indication of the A-list level of talent the project seems to be aiming at (like its predecessor, which starred the likes of Kevin Spacey, Laura Dern and Tom Wilkinson).

We have to admit, it's not an immediately obvious choice -- Harris tends to play steely, calculating characters, a real contrast from the doddering, doughy image of McCain that prevailed during the election season. At the same time, like Moore's casting, it suggests that the film will be focused on real performances, rather than simply impersonations, and Harris is more than skilled enough to knock the character out the park. There's no word on the casting of other key figures, like Barack and Michelle Obama, Hilary and Bill Clinton, and Joe Biden. It's also unclear when the project will film, but Moore has a gap in her schedule between the currently-filming "Another Bullshit Night in Suck City" and her villainous role in "The Seventh Son," which kicks off in September, so it's likely to be in the late spring/early summer, meaning we're likely to see the film on screens early next year.

This article is related to: Films, Actors, Actresses, TV Networks, Jay Roach, Game Change, Ed Harris, Danny Strong


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