Julianne Moore to play Sarah Palin? Ya, betcha!

Tina Fey has been justifiably praised for her comedic portrayal of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live, but only a veteran actress could possibly play the former vice presidential candidate should a credible movie ever be made about the former vice presidential candidate.

Enter Julianne Moore, who has been cast to play Palin in the forthcoming HBO movie Game Change. The film, which has yet to begin filming or set an air date, will tell the story of John McCain’s failed 2008 presidential run. Although it reportedly revolves around the Arizona senator’s campaign, it would be impossible for the focus of the movie not to be on his controversial selection of the then-little-known and unpolished Alaska governor Palin as his running mate.

Despite her four Oscar nominations and brilliant work over the years, I have to admit that Moore’s name never would have entered my mind for this movie (which is based on the bestselling book of the same name by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin). None of that, mind you, has anything to do with her fine acting ability. It’s just that we have all been so conditioned by Fey’s stereotypical impersonation — based largely on her eerie similarity to the former Alaska governor — that it wouldn’t have dawned on me to cast a red-headed, freckled actress for the part.

And the fact that director Jay Roach placed a higher emphasis on capturing Palin’s essence rather than imitating her looks leads me to think that he is serious about telling an actual story rather than looking for yet another reason to exploit her many shortcomings. Kudos also needs to go to Roach and writer/producer Danny Strong for luring Moore on board without the rest of the movie yet to be cast. That is a huge leap of faith for an actor to take, and it says a lot about her respect for everybody involved in the HBO film.

As for thoughts on who might play the other lead characters, here are some of our suggestions:

John McCain: Robert Duvall, Michael Caine or Anthony Hopkins

Barack Obama: Laurence Fishburne, Terrence Howard or Jamie Foxx

Joe Biden: Ted Danson, Richard Gere or Gary Oldman

Hillary Clinton: Helen Mirren, Jean Smart or Blythe Danner

MORE: Julianne Moore is Sarah Palin look-alike in HBO’s “Game Change”