John Lithgow plays Roger Ailes in the Fox News drama Bombshell

By Alexia Fernández
December 20, 2019 09:00 AM
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John Lithgow is no stranger to playing real-life figures — but there is one character he won’t go near.

In a PEOPLE exclusive clip of this Sunday’s episode of Sunday Today with Willie Geist, the Bombshell actor revealed he had been asked to play President Donald Trump in a film.

“They actually asked me to play Donald Trump in a project,” Lithgow, 74, tells Willie Geist in the clip. “I turned it down mainly because I was doing something else.”

He continued, “I don’t think I would do it, it’s almost too close.”

Lithgow portrays the former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes in the drama Bombshell, also starring Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson, Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly and Margot Robbie as a fictional Fox News employee.

John Lithgow; Donald Trump
| Credit: Noam Galai/Getty; Mike Pont/WireImage

Ailes was accused of sexual harassment and resigned from the media company in July 2016. He died in May 2017 at the age of 77.

Lithgow has played other notable public figures in the past, including Winston Churchill in the Netflix series The Crown and Bill Clinton in the Broadway play Hillary and Clinton.

He tells Geist playing those real-life people was more coincidence than planning.

“It’s what was offered to me. You get offered one and they come after you for another,” says Lithgow.

Earlier this month, the cast of the film received a Screen Actors Guild nomination for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture.

Bombshell is now in theaters.

Lithgow’s full interview on Sunday Today with Willie Geist airs this Sunday at 8 a.m. EST.