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Gillian Anderson to Play Eleanor Roosevelt in Showtime Series ‘The First Lady’

Gillian Anderson Eleanor Roosevelt
Michael Buckner/Variety/Associated Press

Gillian Anderson has been cast as Eleanor Roosevelt in the upcoming Showtime anthology series “The First Lady,” Variety has learned.

The show is described as a reframing of American leadership, told through the lens of the women at the heart of the White House. Anderson joins previously announced series leads Viola Davis and Michelle Pfeiffer, who will play Michelle Obama and Betty Ford respectively.

“Gillian Anderson is an actress of incredible range and exquisite talent – she is the perfect choice to complete this powerhouse trio, who will inhabit the roles of these iconic women,” said Amy Israel, executive vice president of scripted programming for Showtime. “It’s inspiring to have Gillian, Viola Davis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Susanne Bier and Cathy Schulman at the forefront of ‘The First Lady.’ They have truly set the stage for a landmark Showtime series.”

Roosevelt served as the First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945, making her the longest serving First Lady in history. She was an American political figure, diplomat and activist. Controversial for her outspokenness, particularly on civil rights, she was the first presidential spouse to hold regular press conferences, write a daily newspaper column and host a weekly radio show. She also pushed the United States to join and support the United Nations and became its first delegate.

The role marks the second time in recent memory that Anderson has played a famous historical figure. She recently portrayed British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Season 4 of “The Crown” at Netflix, which has earned her a Golden Globe nomination. Anderson also currently stars in the Netflix comedy series “Sex Education.” She is best known for her starring role in the Fox supernatural procedural “The X-Files,” for which she won an Emmy and a Golden Globe. She also received Emmy, Golden Globe, and BAFTA nominations for “Bleak House.”

She is repped by Independent Talent Group and UTA.

The series also stars Aaron Eckhart as President Gerald Ford. Additional guest stars include Judy Greer as Betty Ford’s trusted confidante and social secretary Nancy Howe, Jayme Lawson as young Michelle Obama, Kristine Forseth as young Betty Ford, and Rhys Wakefield as President Ford’s Deputy Chief of Staff Dick Cheney.

“The First Lady” is written and executive produced by Aaron Cooley. Davis is also executive producing along with Julius Tennon and Andrew Wang of JuVee Productions. Cathy Schulman of Welle Entertainment executive produces along with Jeff Gaspin via Gaspin Media, and Brad Kaplan of LINK Entertainment. Susanne Bier is attached to direct and executive produce. Showtime and Lionsgate Television will produce.