Michelle Pfeiffer to star as Betty Ford in Showtime's The First Lady

Nick Romano
·2 min read

Rich Fury/Getty Images; Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Showtime's anthology series about First Ladies has found its second First Lady.

Michelle Pfeiffer, who's coming off a buzzy performance in the potential Oscar contender French Exit, has been cast as Betty Ford, wife of President Gerald Ford, in The First Lady. Viola Davis was previously announced to play former FLOTUS Michelle Obama, and casting has not been revealed yet for the third subject of the new show, Eleanor Roosevelt.

The First Lady is a working title, which was already changed from First Ladies. Susanne Bier (HBO's The Undoing) will direct and executive-produce the series. (Fun fact: Pfeiffer's husband, David E. Kelley, produced The Undoing.) The anthology's first season will focus on the personal and political lives of Mrs. Obama, Mrs. Ford, and Mrs. Roosevelt as a "revelatory reframing of American leadership," according to a press release.

Ford, who served as First Lady of the United States from 1974 to 1977, was one of the more politically active presidential spouses in history and commented on every hot-button issue of the time. She also raised awareness of addiction after she made public her battle with alcoholism and substance abuse.

"Michelle Pfeiffer and Susanne Bier have joined the brilliant and incomparable Viola Davis to bring the remarkable stories of these women into urgent, engrossing, and long overdue focus," said Showtime's Amy Israel, executive vice president of scripted programming. "Michelle brings authenticity, vulnerability, and complexity to all her roles, and Susanne is a visionary director who commands the screen with fierce honesty and a singular visual style. With these formidable artists in front of and behind the camera, we couldn't be more thrilled — especially at this unique moment in time for our nation — about the powerful promise of The First Lady."

The series was created by Aaron Cooley, who authored Four Seats: A Thriller of the Supreme Court. Cooley will write several episodes. He'll also executive-produce The First Lady with Oscar-winning Crash producer Cathy Schulman, Davis, Julius Tennon, Andrew Wang, Jeff Gaspin, and Brad Kaplan.

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