Brendan Gleeson has been set to play President Donald Trump opposite Jeff Daniels’ James Comey in the four-hour CBS Studios event miniseries based on the former FBI director’s bestselling book A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership. Deadline reported earlier this morning that Daniels will play Comey.
Billy Ray, the Oscar-nominated scribe of Captain Phillips, Shattered Glass and the upcoming Clint Eastwood-directed Richard Jewell, adapted the book and directs the miniseries with shooting to begin next month. Alex Kurtzman, Shane Salerno and Heather Kadin are executive producing, and the mini is produced by Secret Hideout, The Story Factory and Home Run Productions in association with CBS Television Studios. CBS execs will decide later on the airdate and whether the mini is broadcast on Showtime, CBS All Access, or both.
Trump is a major figure in the mini, and the Dublin-born Gleeson bears a strong physical resemblance. Comey was the first high-ranking official to take on President Trump in a book. Its title, A Higher Loyalty, refers to the unflagging personal loyalty Comey claims Trump demanded of him over the Michael Flynn investigation, and fired him from the top FBI post when he didn’t get it. Comey, who says Trump had expressed to him frustration over the investigation into possible Russian collusion and over the FBI’s unwillingness to prosecute Hillary Clinton for her handling of emails, has been a persistent thorn in the side — and a target — of the President. That is ironic as many felt that Trump benefited from Comey’s decision to reopen an FBI inquiry into Clinton’s private server emails shortly before the 2016 election.
“It’s hard to imagine a bigger acting challenge than playing Donald Trump,” Ray said in a statement. “You have to have presence, and a singular kind of dynamism. You also have to have the courage and the will to play Trump’s psychology from the inside out. Oh, and you have to be spectacularly talented and watchable. Not many actors check all those boxes. Brendan does. I’m ecstatic about this.”
Gleeson’s work ranges from playing Alastor Moody in the Harry Potter films to Braveheart, Michael Collins, Gangs of New York, Cold Mountain, and his Golden Globe nominated performance in In Bruges. Gleeson won an Emmy Award in 2009 for his remarkable portrayal of Winston Churchill in Into the Storm and has just completed 3 seasons on his award winning role as retired detective Bill Hodges in the Mr. Mercedes TV series.
Ray researched the project for over a year in order to make the drama a fair, responsible and comprehensively documented account of real-life events. He traveled to Washington, D.C. and several other cities to meet with Comey, his family, and many other key players, including prominent journalists, FBI agents, government officials from both political parties and others.
A Higher Loyalty has sold over two million copies across all platforms and has vaulted again to the top of the bestseller lists after a recent release in paperback. Comey served as the seventh director of the FBI from 2013 to 2017. From helping change the Bush administration’s policies on torture and electronic surveillance to overseeing the Hillary Clinton email investigation as well as possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, Comey has been involved in some of the most consequential cases and policies of recent history.
Gleeson is repped by Ireland-based The Agency and Principal Entertainment.