Why Casting Kiefer Sutherland in ‘The First Lady’ Marked an “Emotional Moment” for the Show’s Creator

Why Casting Kiefer Sutherland in ‘The First Lady’ Marked an “Emotional Moment” for the Show’s Creator thumbnail

Much has been written about Showtime’s prestige series The first Lady . This is a reference to its female creative team. There’s a great story about Aaron Cooley, creator of TheFirst Lady and his co-star Kiefer Sutherland ..

Cooley cut his teeth in entertainment by starting out as an assistant to filmmaker Joel Schumacher in 2002. By that point, the in-demand auteur had already churned out a long list of high-profile Hollywood films including St. Elmo’s Fire, The Lost Boys, Batman Forever, Batman & Robin, A Time to Kill, Flawless and Tigerland, to name a few. There’s another feature that deserves to be mentioned because it made quite an impression.

“I remember sneaking into Flatliners because it was rated R and I was too young,” Cooley recalls of Schumacher’s 1990 film about medical students (played by Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin and Oliver Platt) who experiment with near-death experiences. “So many Joel’s movies have shaped my life .”

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Aaron Cooley is the creator of Showtime’s The Second Lady.
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Cooley would go on to spend 18 years with Schumacher (eventually running development at his company), during which time they worked on seven films before the director’s death from cancer in 2020. Cooley said that he was not a direct collaborator with Sutherland, but that his heart was swelled when the opportunity presented to him to cast him as President Franklin D. Roosevelt in Anderson’s Eleanor Roosevelt.

“To have Kiefer as a character in something I created, especially after Joel’s passing, was very emotional for me,” Cooley said to The Hollywood Reporter during the April premiere. Cooley was quick to credit director Bier for the attraction that attracted high-wattage stars. “Everyone wanted Susanne to work with them. Everybody she asked said yes. This is how you end up having one of the most talented casts, so I’m lucky to have worked with Kiefer because her .”

This story first appeared in a June stand alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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