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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

On the Next Episode of The Lead

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May 29th, 2013
07:07 PM ET

What does it take to portray the President of the United States?

For every president, there is an actor. And for every film that portrays the commander in chief, there is someone who must choose a face of history.

The next visage for our viewing pleasure is Rob Lowe. It was announced Tuesday that the man who recently played Liberace's plastic surgeon on HBO, will now play John F. Kennedy on National Geographic.

JFK is the chameleon of Camelot, having been portrayed by more than 10 different actors, with an equal number of Jackie O's beside him.

Casting director Ellen Lewis has been responsible for portraying historical figures in "Hyde Park on Hudson," "The Aviator," and "Forrest Gump." She knows what it takes to make a good president.

"You don't want to look for a look-a-like, you don't want it to seem like a cartoon, but you want something the audience can hook into, to tie them to the character," said Lewis.

Aligning an actor with a politician's views does not seem to matter, especially when it comes to unflattering portrayals of Republicans.

Left-leaning actor Josh Brolin played former Republican President George W. Bush in Oliver Stone's 2008 biopic "W." Actress Julianne Moore was outspoken against the woman she played in "Game Change" - Sarah Palin.

"She didn't like the book so I don't think she liked how she was portrayed in the movie either," said Moore.

Now Hollywood is abuzz with rumors that Scarlett Johansson may play Hillary Clinton in the forthcoming feature, "Rodham." Johansson backed Obama against Clinton in those bruising 2008 primaries.

"It actually could be a greater challenge for the actor to portray a role different than their views," said Lewis.

For the actors, the pressure is great.

"The last thing I wanted to do was to go down in flames having desecrated the name of the greatest president in history," said actor Daniel Day Lewis, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of President Abraham Lincoln.

Just as in real politics, there will be critics and naysayers, no matter who wins the role.

"Killing Kennedy" is based on Bill O'Reilly's best-selling book, and will premiere on the National Geographic television channel later this year to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's assassination.

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