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"Strangely fitting in a grotesque fashion."
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June 08 2011

Olivia Williams tipped to play Eleanor Roosevelt in 'Hyde Park on the Hudson'. Deadline says "she is in talks to join Bill Murray, who plays Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Laura Linney, who'll play FDR's distant cousin and mistress."

Interesting casting; Olivia Williams will make a very beautiful Eleanor, while Bill Murray will make a very weird looking FDR. But I'd still want to see it.
I can't quite see either of them in the roles but I will be fascinated to see how they pull it off.
One wonders whether this will be social comedy, which could work if they can get the tone right. Ordinarily when one thinks of a movie about FDR, one thinks "very serious" but a movie about his earlier years or his personal life need not be. Alice Longworth Roosevelt is famous for embroidering a pillow that said, "If you can't say something nice about somebody, sit right here by me."
I can see Olivia Williams and Laura Linney, but no matter how fantastic of an actor Bill Murray has proven himself to be, I can't see him as patrician. Presumable the producers saw something there in him though. Could be interesting.
My immediate reaction: Olivia Williams as Eleanor Roosevelt is perfect.
I'll go one farther and say Olivia Williams as anyone is perfect. Next she should play James Bond. ;-)
Murray and Williams worked brilliantly together in Rushmore. Of course, Jason Schwartzman's performance and Wes Anderson's script didn't exactly suck. I think I've seen that movie at least eight times.
What distant cousin and mistress? He had no distant cousin and mistress? He had a distant cousin who was his most intimate friend for the last ten years of his life, but I'm not aware of any reputable historian (and I'm a pretty hardcore FDR fan - I own all of the multi-volume biographies and most of the single volume ones) who claims that he and Daisy Suckley were lovers, and that is who they have to be referring to with the Laura Linney character. Most - though not all - biographers believe that FDR might not have been capable of sex after his polio. He certainly loved the company of women, but not lovers. Near the end of his life he reunited as friends with Lucy Mercer, but he had no mistress from the time from Eleanor discovering about Lucy until the end of his life. If there is a candidate for a mistress, it would be his secretary Missy Lehand, but again, there is the problem of his polio. And there is no real evidence for him having a relationship with Lehand. There is even less for a relationship with Daisy Suckley.

God this makes me mad! It is like BS historians who want to make Lincoln out as gay, despite a complete and total lack of evidence of any kind, but only because we impose our own sensibilities retroactively on another age. (Lincoln is my second favorite president.)

Anyone wanting to read a really good book on Daisy Suckley and her friendship with FDR should read CLOSEST COMPANION: THE UNKNOWN STORY OF THE INTIMATE FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT AND MARGARET SUCKLEY, which is a collection of their correspondence with extensive annotation by Geoffrey Ward, who also wrote two very good books on parts of FDR's life. Ward does not mean "intimate" as in "sexual" but as in extremely close friends. In fact, I think it was Daisy Suckley who took the two photographs that exist of FDR in his wheelchair. I'm not sure about that, but I believe it is right.

OK, off soap box. But why do people have to create something salacious when there was nothing there? It is like trying to make Eleanor into a lesbian, when she was the world's biggest prude (though her children were divided on whether she had a relationship with a woman). But no one who knew FDR and none of his biographers believe he and Daisy Suckley were lovers.
I haven't done enough reading to have an informed opinion about Mrs. Roosevelt's life as a widow. I will venture the observation that an upper class woman born in the nineteenth century might regard a discreet romantic relationship with another woman late in life, once her childrearing and other wifely duties were done, to be less an offense to propriety than taking a male lover. Lesbian relationships were not looked upon in quite the same way as love affairs between men.
@erendis - I'm thinking she should play the 12th Doctor next :D

Can't wait to see if she accepts. Laura Linney! Olivia Williams! Awesome!
I believe that Eleanor Roosevelt's pain, and really all her feelings, are fairly well documented because President Roosevelt kept all of her correspondence to him throughout their marriage. Unfortunately we get a rather one sided point of view because she didn't seem to have kept his correspondence to her.

I wonder if future historians will be able to read email and online posts the way they've been able to go through so much famous correspondence?

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