the biopic about obama’s college years is going to be amazing

The cast of the new film will include Jason Mitchell from ‘Straight Outta Compton,’ Ellar Coltrane of ‘Boyhood,’ and Anya Taylor-Joy of ‘The Witch.’

by Alice Newell-Hanson
15 March 2016, 5:20pm

As a president of the United States, you're lucky if you get a PBS special about your life. If you're unlucky, maybe you get a Lifetime movie. If you're borderline evil, Anthony Hopkins or Frank Langella might play you in an icy political drama. But not Barack Obama. In the last two years, our current president has inspired two movies, and neither is about dodgy political dealings — they're both just about, like, his life — and they both have bonafide indie credentials. The first film, Southside with You (yes, the one about Barack and Michelle's first date), premiered at Sundance this year, and the second, Barry ("Barry"!), about Obama's college years, has a cast list of emerging stars that overlaps with Straight Outta Compton's.

Variety announced yesterday that Jason Mitchell, who played Eazy-E in Straight Outta Compton, has signed on to the project, as has Ellar Coltrane, the lead of Richard Linklater's Boyhood. Anya Taylor-Joy, the breakout star of recent release The Witch is also a confirmed cast member, who will play a fellow Columbia University student, while newcomer Devon Terrell will play Barack himself.

Judging by the fact that Obama was enrolled in college in 1980s New York City, sported such looks as this and this, and enjoyed the occasional smoke, this college movie is shaping up nicely. While production isn't scheduled to begin until later this month, Obama's college girlfriend provides some interesting hints about what to expect in David Maraniss' 2012 Obama's biography. In a gross but memorable passage, she describes Obama's college room as a "private space pervaded by a mixture of smells that so strongly speak of his presence, his liveliness, his habits — running sweat, Brut spray deodorant, smoking, eating raisins, sleeping, breathing." Ew, raisins.


Text Alice Newell-Hanson
Image via White House Flickr

barack obama
devon terrell
Anya Taylor-Joy
ellar coltrane
jason mitchell