Bill Pullman plays President Dale Gilchrist in NBC's new show
Bill Pullman plays President Dale Gilchrist in NBC's new show 1600 Penn. Chris Haston/NBC
Bill Pullman enjoyed a star turn as the president of the United States in Independence Day. And in an upcoming NBC show, 1600 Penn, he's back in the White House. He's also starring in a new film, Bringing Up Bobby.
"This is an amazing time to be making a comedy about the White House," Pullman tells NPR's Neal Conan. "There's all these ... articles about the misspeaking that the presidents have done ... and I thought, boy, these are the lines I get to say, you know?"
And actors who play the president have an advantage over actual presidents and contenders, he says. "It's really kind of fun to have a little bit of freedom, you know, when you see how many constraints there are on the actual candidates."
Pullman has enjoyed a long career in Hollywood, and he's had a few favorite roles. Working with director David Lynch on Lost Highway, he says, was a great experience. "Everybody who, off that movie, all wanted to do something very creative afterward, because you're so aware that you got real creativity in the room."
In The Serpent and the Rainbow, Wes Craven's 1988 film, he played an anthropologist going into Haiti searching for new drugs for anesthesia. Though it was a horror film, he "thought the production design and the whole immersion into the Haitian culture was pretty successful."
Like so many actors, it's time on stage that Pullman truly treasures. He started as a theater actor and was in the first production of Edward Albee's play, The Goat, about a man who falls in love with a goat.
"It seems like an odd premise, but it ends up being kind of an amazingly tragic kind of thing," says Pullman. So when the play earned both a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize, "we all really felt like we had overcome a lot of resistance to it, an important play."