"By the way, I would’ve voted for Obama a third time if I could," is an instantly iconic movie line, but the actor who said it wasn’t entirely in on the joke — at first. In the latest episode of Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert, Bradley Whitford revealed he didn’t know his Obama line in Get Out was a joke when he said it. During his conversation with Shepard, Whitford shared that he originally thought the line was meant to be sincere, and yes, he does see the irony now.
As a Barack Obama supporter in real life — Whitford campaigned for the former president — the West Wing star didn’t initially realize his line was skewering white liberals. "Listen. I did not think that ‘I would vote for Obama for a third term’ was a laugh line," he said to Shepard. This isn’t the first time that Whitford has admitted to being clueless about that particular Get Out moment. In a 2019 GQ profile he said, "I didn’t even know that was a joke. I don’t know, but I probably said it to Jordan, without realizing that it’s the whitest thing a person could say."
Could Whitford’s white liberal earnestness have actually inspired the movie’s writer-director-star Jordan Peele to include the line? Peele hasn’t confirmed that tidbit, but according to Whitford, it was his gig on West Wing — playing a noted white liberal —that helped land him the villainous role. "I just thought it would be funny to see Josh Lyman take the top part of someone’s head off," Peele said, according to the actor.
His time on The West Wing positioned him to understand the white liberal fantasy of politics, and then to turn that same idea inside out in Peele’s Get Out. Whitford explained to Shepard that the director "was clearly playing on the ‘good’ liberal white dude" trope when it came to creating his chilling Get Out patriarch Dean Armitage. Ultimately, Dean reveals his liberal righteousness is all an act, but in Whitford’s case, there’s sincerity behind his activism.
"Politics isn’t like a hobby, politics is the way you create your moral vision and democracies don’t work, they don’t just happen, you gotta make them happen every day," he said in his interview with GQ. He may not initially have been in on the tone deafness of his character’s Obama joke in Get Out, but Whitford acknowledges his mistake, and in real life, he’s passionate about the power of creating change through politics. Which is not something his terrifying Get Out character could ever say.
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