Younger fans might be surprised to learn that recently deceased comedy star Fred Willard played the president in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. President Garner doesn’t pop up much, but Willard managed to inject him with some of the latent humor from some of his other appearances in TV and film. The most infamous appearance is probably in “Meet John Doe” where the President is running against a criminal from the future. The evildoer uses some sort of subliminal device to win the election and cause havoc across the country. Superman ends up getting trapped in a weird time dimension, but never fear, everything ends up going alright. (This is TV after all!)
Willard talked about the handful of times that he’s played the ostensible leader of the planet in a conversation with Entertainment Weekly. In that interview, he begins talking about being CEO Shelby Forthright in Pixar’s WALL-E and it just flows from there. In fact, it seems like the actor was a name many called on when they needed an authority figure.
“I was at home and Andrew Stanton called and he said that ‘we’re doing a little film up here at Pixar and we thought we’d like to have you appear in the film.’ I’ve always loved Pixar films, they do such wonderful animation," he told the publication. "Each one is more astounding than the other. The interesting thing is that there was no script at the time. They hadn’t started actually producing it. I knew my part, I knew what I was doing, like my character. I had given a pre-taped interview for the whole world to watch.”
“The idea is that the whole planet had fallen apart and we were all going to be evacuated into outer space,” he added. “After a couple years of cleanup, people would gently come back down to a greener, refurbished Earth. That’s all I knew and if I knew any more, I couldn’t tell anybody about it at the time. I have no idea why they wanted that to be a live-action part. Unless they thought I was the perfect person who’s so self-unaware, but could act like someone who is in charge.”
“I’d played the president in several other shows. In the Lois and Clark television show, and in a movie for Disney called The Pooch and the Pauper. Both times are kind of self-unaware Presidents. I guess I look like the perfect foolish person to be in charge of the entire Earth,” Willard concluded.
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