The Comey Rule, which revolves around FBI director James Comey in the run-up to the 2016 US election and the early months of Donald Trump’s presidency, drops on Neon this week. Here’s a rundown of the cast of characters in the political mire of the US, and who’s playing who.
Jeff Daniels as James Comey
Who is he? Jeff Daniels has been a high-tier “hey, it’s that guy!” for decades now, with a variety of serious roles across drama and comedy, film and TV. The dramas you might recognise him from are The Hours, The Squid and the Whale, Steve Jobs and The Martian. The comedies you’ll recognise him from are Dumb & Dumber and Dumb & Dumber 2. He’s got the range, you guys.
Who’s he playing? James Comey was the director of the FBI from 2013 until he was (spoiler alert for recent history) dismissed some months into Trump’s presidency. He’s a figure of some controversy, with some pundits claiming that his reopening of the investigation into Hilary Clinton’s emails two weeks before the election was what cost her it. He is also, as you might expect, the subject of The Comey Rule.
Holly Hunter as Sally Yates
Who is she? Holly Hunter is one of the most acclaimed actors of her generation, with an Oscar and two Emmys under her belt and more nominations to her name than words in this article. While her most recognisable role would be The Piano, she’s recently appeared in Succession as a cutthroat CEO, because is there any other kind of CEO in Succession?
Who is she playing? Sally Yates was, at the time of Trump’s election, the United States attorney general, having been appointed by Obama. She served for 10 days as the acting attorney general, but was dismissed by Trump for insubordination when she stated that the “Muslim ban” of 2017 was not defensible in court.
Michael Kelly as Andrew McCabe
Who is he? Michael Kelly is another “hey it’s that guy!”. If you watched House of Cards, you’ll recognise him as Doug Stamper, a role that netted him a few Emmy nominations, but he’s had plum roles in Black Mirror, Jack Ryan, and The Sopranos.
Who is he playing? McCabe was the deputy director of the FBI from 2016 until – and if you’re sensing a theme here, you might well be Sue Nicholson – he was dismissed by Jeff Sessions, the country’s attorney general at the time. You know that story about the dog who died the day before he retires from the police force? McCabe was literally 26 hours away from retirement when he was unceremoniously removed from the post. So that was basically his experience, without the joy of being a dog, or the burden of, you know, dying.
Jennifer Ehle as Patrice Comey nee Failor
Who is she? According to me, Jennifer Ehle is one of the best, most underrated actors of her generation. According to most, she’s the best Elizabeth Bennet in the Colin Firth-starring BBC adaptation of Pride of Prejudice. She’s also the best thing about pretty much every film she’s in, including A Quiet Passion, Zero Dark Thirty and Contagion.
Who is she playing? Patrice Comey is James Comey’s wife! She was apparently kept out of the loop for most of Comey’s work, which sounds like a wise choice. If my husband’s work was dramatic enough to make for a two-part miniseries, I’d keep my headphones in too.
Scott McNairy as Rod Rosenstein
Who is he? Another trend is emerging here: Scott McNairy is a quintessential “hey, it’s that guy!”. He’s largely been on the fringes in bigger projects like Argo, 12 Years a Slave, Gone Girl, Batman v Superman and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. However, he’s really made his mark in TV, with meaty roles in Halt and Catch Fire, True Detective and Godless.
Who is he playing? Rod Rosenstein, who is mostly famous for his support of the Trump administration family separation policy, saying that the government “should not be categorically declining immigration prosecutions of adults in family units because of the age of a child”. He is, uh, probably a villain in this show, as in life.
Steven Pasquale as Peter Strzok
Who is he? Steven Pasquale is largely a musical theatre actor, which I won’t bore you with (but he’s worth checking out on Spotify). His biggest TV roles to date have been in Rescue Me, The Good Wife and The People v O.J Simpson: American Crime Story.
Who is he playing? Peter Strzok (said like “struck”, somehow) led the FBI investigation into Hilary Clinton’s emails, and later worked on Robert Mueller’s investigation into any shenanigans between Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government. He was removed from this investigation when Mueller became aware of criticisms shared in text messages exchanged between him and FBI lawyer Lisa Page. These text messages, numbering in the thousands, became a huge media story for about a week, and lord, let’s pour one out for the journalists who had to read over all those.
Oona Chaplin as Lisa Page
Who is she? Here’s a twist: Oona Chaplin is a “hey, it’s that gal!”. Her biggest role is as Talisa Maegyr in Game of Thrones, but she’s also been in Spooks, The Hour (not to be mistaken for The Hours) and will appear in the long-gestating Avatar sequels.
And some trivia for you: she is the granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin!
Who is she playing? The aforementioned Lisa Page. She does not have her own Wikipedia page, which she is probably thankful for.
Peter Coyote as Robert Mueller
Who is he? Peter Coyote has had a long and storied career, and you’ve probably seen him in the likes of E.T, Patch Adams, or Erin Brockovich. You’ll probably recognise his voice more than his face, as he’s a popular narrator for the likes of Ken Burns work and countless other documentaries. More hilariously, to me, he is a founder of a troupe called The Diggers, who called themselves an “anarchist improv group”, which has to be the coolest kind of improv.
Who is he playing? Robert Mueller was the Director of the FBI between 2001 and 2013, but he’s most famous/infamous for being special counsel for the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election. His report was submitted last year and it changed the world forever. Just kidding! Nothing happened. The world is a mess.
William Sadler as Michael Flynn
Who is he? When does one age from a “hey, it’s that guy!” into “hello, it’s you sir”. Because William Sadler is definitely the latter. He’s appeared in countless things, but if you’ve any taste, you’ll recognise him in his iconic role as the Grim Reaper in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.
Who is he playing? Michael Flynn was a senior adviser for Trump during his campaign, and was the national security adviser for less than a month. His tenure is the shortest in the history of the position. He later plead guilty to falsely testifying to the FBI, but later withdrew his guilty plea. He co-authored a book called The Field of Fight: How We Can We Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies, which I’m sure isn’t racist at all.
TR Knight as Reince Priebus
Who is he? I’m going to level with you here: TR Knight is George from Grey’s Anatomy. That’s where you know him from.
Who is he playing? Reince Priebus served as the White House chief of staff for six months in 2017, having the shortest tenure of any White House chief of staff in history. His full name is Reinhold Richard Priebus, which makes you wonder where the hell he got “Reince” from.
Joe Lo Truglio as Jeff Sessions
Who is he? While we’re on the level, you know Joe Lo Truglio from playing Boyle on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Let’s not pretend otherwise.
Who is he playing? Jeff Sessions was one of Trump’s earliest supporters, and coincidentally, was one of the people that James Comey investigated in 2017. To use a political term, he was kind of a dick during these proceedings, which is covered in The Comey Rule. He resigned from the Trump administration in 2018, and lost his bid to be re-elected as a senator in 2020.
Being played by Joe Lu Truglio is a kind fate for him.
Brendan Gleeson as President Donald Trump
Who is he? Brendan Gleeson is one of Ireland’s most accomplished actors, who you probably recognise from his role as Professor Moody in the Harry Potter film series. However, I’d really recommend you check him out in his collaborations with Martin and John Michael McDonagh: In Bruges and Calvary, two black-as-tar comedies that are excellent.
Who is he playing? If you don’t know, then I would like the address of the rock you’re living under so I can join you there. I am house-trained.
Kingsley Ben-Adir as President Barack Obama
Who is he? British actor Kingsley Ben-Adir is a relative unknown, with a few roles dotted across various limited series, but 2020 looks to be a good year for him playing Black icons. Not only does he play Barack Obama, he’s set to star as Malcolm X in One Night in Miami.
Who is he playing? Again, if you don’t know, please email the location of your rock to firstname.lastname@example.org. You seem to be pleasantly hidden away from the world, and I would welcome the ignorance.
You can watch The Comey Rule on Neon this week.