February 20, 1996
Web posted at: 9:25 a.m EST
From Correspondent Mark Scheerer
NEW YORK (CNN) -- The glitz and glitter of Hollywood may appear to be diametrically opposed to the cut-throat world of politics. But with films like "American President, "Nixon" and "City Hall" casting some famous actors in some powerful political roles, it poses an intriguing question.
How much do the movie-maker's fantasy land and Washington's political arena actually have in common?
"Well, the big similarity is what public figures have to go through and their loss of privacy," says "American President" director Rob Reiner. (94K AIFF sound or 94K WAV sound) More from "American President" actor Michael Douglas - (94K AIFF sound or 94K WAV sound)
Both actors and politicians can relate to the excessive public attention, but after probing deeper into governmental dynamics, some find a rift in the common thread that binds them.
"I think we as celebrities have a lot more control," says Annette Bening, who played opposite Michael Douglas in "American President." (119K AIFF sound or 119K WAV sound)
In "Nixon," Joan Allen, playing Richard Nixon's wife Pat, found more difficulty relating to a real-life political figure than a fictitious one.
"I feel so different from Pat Nixon ... as a person," she says. "But people are beginning to say there's an uncanny resemblance to her." (162K AIFF sound or 162K WAV sound)
That resemblance helped garner her an Oscar nomination. Co-star Anthony Hopkins also received a nomination for the role he tapped into through a spiritual connection. (111K AIFF sound or 111K WAV sound)
"City Hall" depicts a mayor confronting corruption. But the analogous aspects of New York City politics are often tough to hit upon.
"New York's like a boxing match," says director John Cusack. "In Hollywood, it's like a Fellini movie or something."
After tallying the votes for and against a connection between Hollywood and politics, the overall consensus was simple.
"We don't really change the world," says actor Martin Sheen. "We reflect it ... but Washington really changes the world."
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