BLOGS

Revisting the Political Pasts of USA’s <i>Political Animals</i>

Talk about stacking the court. USA has packed the cast of their new Washington D.C.-set drama Political Animals, which premieres on Sunday, with eight experienced screen politicians who have each held down prestigious government (or government adjacent) jobs before. Here's a look at their past political lives and how those experiences prepared them to survive in this version of the Washington jungle.

Sigourney Weaver
Who She's Playing On Political Animals: Former first lady and failed presidential candidate Hillary... uh, make that Elaine Barrish Hammond.
Previous Term in Office: First Lady Ellen Mitchell in Ivan Reitman's last good movie, Dave, starring Kevin Kline as the cold-hearted president and the good-natured temp employment agency manner that stands in for him when the real Prez is felled by a stroke.
Animal Instincts for Politics: The ability to spot a faker -- especially one who lives with you -- is a good skill to have in D.C.

CiarĂ¡n Hinds
Who He's Playing On Political Animals: Former President (and renowned ladies' man) Bud Hammond, who is trying to fight his way back onto the national stage after his divorce from Elaine made him persona non grata.
Previous Term in Office: Hinds has had many political positions (including a Russian president in The Sum of All Fears, a Martian ruler in John Carter and a Grecian king in Jason and the Argonauts) during the course of his career, but we're choosing to focus on his memorable turn as Julius Caesar on HBO's two-season wonder, Rome.
Animal Instincts for Politics: Caesar had the kind of grand "vision thing" that many leaders aspire to and was also skilled at crafting alliances to suit his own ends. And having seen what happens when you grow too hubristic and dictatorial, Hinds should be able to keep Hammond from a literal backstabbing.

Carla Gugino
Who She's Playing On Political Animals: Political journalist Susan Berg, who hitches her star to the Hammond clan.
Previous Term in Office: Ashley Scaffer on Spin City, another reporter who takes up with a politician -- New York's Deputy Mayor Mike Flaherty.
Animal Instincts for Politics: If you're going to last in the Washington press corps, try to keep your personal life separate from your political life... even though that almost never works.

Adrian Pasdar
Who He's Playing On Political Animals: Current President Paul Garcetti, who tapped his one-time opponent Eliane to be his Secretary of State.
Previous Term in Office: Heroes' New York District Attorney-turned-Senator Nathan Petrelli, whose qualifications include a dogged desire to see justice down, boundless ambition and the ability to fly.
Animal Instincts for Politics: Sometimes family is more of a liability than a boon in the game of politics, especially when you're saddled with a mopey, dopey brother.

Ellen Burstyn
Who She's Playing On Political Animals: Elaine's savvy mom Margaret Barrish, who rose from being a Vegas showgirl to First Mom-In-Law.
Previous Term in Office: Former First Lady Barbara Bush in Oliver Stone's W., where she was married to James Cromwell's George and mothered Josh Brolin's George W.
Animal Instincts for Politics: Don't suffer fools gladly, even if the fool is your own son.

Dylan Baker
Who He's Playing On Political Animals: Paul's veep Fred Collier, who is often relegated to the sidelines by his boss and the rest of the administration, but knows far more than he's letting on.
Previous Term in Office: William Cross on NBC's short-lived (but fondly-remembered) alternate reality political drama Kings, brother of the Queen and chief funder of her royal husband's kingdom.
Animal Instincts for Politics: The guy in the background often wields the most power... especially when he wields the most money.

Sebastian Stan
Who He's Playing On Political Animals: Elaine and Bud's son T.J. Hammond, who has battled both fierce addiction problems and fierce prejudice for being openly gay in a town that's still getting used to embracing people who are out of the closet.
Previous Term in Office: Crown Prince (and king-in-waiting) Jack Benjamin on Kings, who also prefers boys to girls, but is much less open about it.
Animal Instincts for Politics: Sad as it is, sometimes you have to hide your true self if you really want to succeed in government.

James Wolk
Who He's Playing On Political Animals: Elaine and Bud's other son, Douglas, whose job as his mother's Chief of Staff is the beginning of what's shaping up to be a very promising political career.
Previous Term in Office: Presidential speechwriter Andrew Pierce on the never-aired ABC pilot Georgetown from Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage.
Animal Instincts for Politics: Since we never saw the pilot, we can't say for sure what instincts Wolk may have developed. We're assuming something having to do with the fact that almost nobody in Washington pens their own dialogue.

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