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Ron Klain: How Kevin Spacey Played Me on HBO

HBO begins airing its movie Recount in late May—a dramatic replay of the vote-counting battle after the almost-tied 2000 presidential election.

The role of Ron Klain, onetime chief of staff to Vice President Al Gore, is played by Kevin Spacey. Spacey is now 49 and balding; Klain was in his late thirties and looked even younger in 2000. Or, as Klain’s wife, Monica, observes, “He may be better-looking than you and more glamorous—but you have a full head of hair, and he doesn’t!”

Klain, a former partner at O’Melveny & Myers who now is general counsel to Revolution LLC, says he didn’t have approval over the movie and was never asked who might play him. Nor did Spacey try to learn his mannerisms. But Klain did get out of the deal a photo of Spacey with Monica and their three children.


“It’s weird to see some actor playing you,” Klain says. Certainly that would be true for Klain’s former law-firm boss, Warren Christopher, played by British actor John Hurt.

But perhaps such inaccuracies beat the alternative. George W. Bush’s Washington lawyer Ted Olson, who argued the winning side at the US Supreme Court, is barely mentioned. Says Olson, “Much of what happens in this movie is not familiar to me.”

Historical revisionism has its limits: In the end, Bush does win.

This article appears in the June 2008 issue of Washingtonian. To see more articles in this issue, click here.

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