Irish actor Brendan Gleeson has been praised for his portrayal of Donald Trump in a controversial TV drama about the president’s election victory and early time in office.
The Comey Rule is based on former FBI director James Comey’s tell-all book A Higher Loyalty and explores the clash of personalities between the two men.
It is the first major drama to portray Mr Trump since he entered the White House in 2016 and producers were braced for a backlash from the combative politician.
Gleeson, 65, reportedly spent two months working with a vocal coach to capture the president’s distinctive voice while he looked close to unrecognisable with blonde hair and a light powdering of orange make-up.
The Harry Potter star – an Emmy winner who has previously played Sir Winston Churchill – delivered a dark portrayal of Mr Trump, starkly different to the over-the-top send-ups often seen on late night shows.
Gleeson’s Mr Trump was seen stalking the corridors of the White House and bullying underlings. His performance was praised on social media.
One viewer described the portrayal as “one of the most unnerving things I’ve ever seen,” adding: “I literally do not understand how an actor can get this close to real; it seems to involve about a hundred simultaneous decisions.”
— Showtime (@Showtime) September 28, 2020
Another said: “Brendan Gleeson as Trump–Just wow! Nailed it.”
One viewer described the portrayal as “chilling” while another said Gleeson is “magnetic”.
They added: “He pulls you in. Malevolent seduction. Like the man himself, his is an evil not to be laughed off or underestimated.”
One fan predicted Gleeson’s Mr Trump would earn the actor Emmy and Golden Globe wins and another said the performance was going to “give me nightmares”.
I'm watching Part 2 of The Comey Rule and Brendan Gleeson's performance as Trump is one of the most unnerving things I've ever seen. I literally do not understand how an actor can get this close to real; it seems to involve about a hundred simultaneous decisions.
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) September 29, 2020
Mr Trump is yet to publicly address The Comey Rule. The political drama stars Jeff Daniels as Mr Comey and documents the events leading up to the 2016 presidential election and Mr Trump’s tumultuous early period in power.
The first part focused on the FBI’s probes into a private email server used by Hillary Clinton – a key election issue – and the possibility Russia was interfering to help Mr Trump win.
Mr Comey was portrayed as a noble civil servant torn over making a public statement on Mrs Clinton. Many Democrats believe his decision to do so helped swing the election Mr Trump’s way.
Episode two introduced Gleeson’s Mr Trump responding angrily to the controversial dossier alleging links with Russia. It finished with a warning that Russia is meddling in the 2020 election.
Brendan Gleeson is magnetic as Trump. He pulls you in. Malevolent seduction. Like the man himself, his is an evil not to be laughed off or underestimated.
— Cheo Hodari Coker (@cheo_coker) September 29, 2020
Mr Trump abruptly fired Mr Comey in May 2017, saying it was necessary to restore “public trust and confidence” in the nation’s top law enforcement agency.
The political drama aired in the US on Showtime but proved controversial months before it was due to hit screens. It was originally due to air after the November election – sparking anger from writer/director Billy Ray.
He said he made the project for his country and wanted to “get this story in front of the American people months before the coming election”.
Showtime changed course and broadcast the two-part miniseries weeks before the November 3 election.
The Comey Rule airs in the UK on Sky Atlantic on September 30 at 9pm.