Peter Morgan, something of a specialist at penning stories about real-life prominent British figures, often about their relationships to prominent, real-life American figures, is to make his third Tony Blair-related piece with The Special Relationship. The film, a co-production between HBO and BBC Films, will focus on the bond held between Tony Blair and Bill Clinton from the commencement of Blair’s premiership in 1997 until Clinton’s final days as President in 2000.
Michael Sheen, who played Blair in the Morgan-penned The Deal and The Queen, will reprise his role as the former Prime Minister. Dennis Quaid has reportedly won the role of Clinton, apparently beating out competition from the likes of Russell Crowe, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Alec Baldwin and Tim Robbins. Hillary will be played by Julianne Moore. Helen McCrory, who played Cherie Blair in The Deal and The Queen, will return. The sticky (ahem) issue of Monica Lewinsky will be sidestepped through showing the intern in only archive footage, apparently included video of her closed-door testimony to Congress on the scandal.
It will mark the first time Clinton has been portrayed on film in power, having been the heavy inspiration for the subject in Primary Colors, the 1998 Mike Nichols film in which John Travolta played a thinly-veiled version of the president during the campaign season.
Interestingly, should the funding be raised, it would be Morgan’s directorial debut, having had Stephen Frears in the chair for The Deal and The Queen. That could prove a challenge for Morgan, whose scripts are often the strongest element but who does need a steadying hand to deal with the actors to prevent any sense of impression falling into the performances.
By a similar token, this will prove a real challenge for the actors, especially Quaid who will be taking on one of the most charismatic political figures in recent years and must avoid falling anywhere close to caricature.