Cynthia Nixon Channels Nancy Reagan in NGC’s Killing Reagan

Hopper Stone/NGC

Cynthia Nixon was on set the day back in June when we visited the production of NGC’s Killing Reagan, based on the Bill O’Reilly bestseller. Nixon was dressed up and, like star Tim Matheson, who plays Ronald Reagan, looking exactly like the person she was playing, down to the designer clothes Nancy Reagan was famed for. But Nixon had to admit, with a laugh, that those clothes are not necessarily her own style.

“These are very beautiful clothes,” Nixon said, pointing out the vintage Adolfo outfit she was wearing for a scene. “They’re very expensive clothes. But really, they’re nothing that I would choose to wear. It’s not just because it’s a different time period. In 1980 I would never have chosen these either.”

Nixon says she is 10 years younger than the First Lady was at the time in which Killing Reagan is set, and that was one of the reasons why she never thought that she would play Nancy.

“I’m younger than she was at this time. … It is funny to see an alternate version of oneself. … I look like myself and yet not at all like myself. One of the things about Nancy is, she’s so good at making her face still. I cannot make my face still. Maybe some of that is plastic surgery. I think some of it is also just a very … she’s a very disciplined film actress. One of the big things about film acting is keeping your face still. I just have never been good at it.”

Given Nixon’s research into the character of Nancy Reagan for Killing Reagan, we wondered if Nixon thought that the First Lady ever would have had it in her to run for office herself.

“No, never,” Nixon stated. “I don’t think she would have ever run. I think she’s very different from someone like Hillary Clinton or even like Eleanor Roosevelt or like Michelle Obama. Maybe it’s more a Republican trait, I don’t know. She really — she was interested in her husband and she was interested in his well-being and his career and protecting him and making sure that he would go as far as he wanted to go and was able to go. I think the role that she loved was to appear as his wife.”

Nixon admits that, based on her own real-life political stances, “I can certainly imagine some conservative fans [of the Reagans] would not be happy with me as the choice [to play Nancy]. [But] I think there is a lot to admire about Nancy. Certainly her strength is formidable and her ingenuity is formidable. Ronald Reagan did a lot of things that I’m not crazy about, but he did a few really important things and I think that he would not have been able to do them without Nancy.

“I think she definitely saw it as her job to protect her husband in any and every way possible. Sometimes she was very aggressive about it. I think that was the thing that allowed Ronald Reagan to be himself. What allowed him to be free and easy is that she took it on herself to be the one who was vigilant.”

Killing Reagan airs Oct. 16 at 8pm ET on NGC.