Gillian Anderson to play bisexual first lady Eleanor Roosevelt in major new series

Gillian Anderson Eleanor Roosevelt

Gillian Anderson is set to play history’s favourite bisexual, Eleanor Roosevelt, in a new television series.

Anderson will play Roosevelt in Showtime’s The First Lady, an anthology series that will tell the stories of first ladies throughout history, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

She will be joined by Michelle Pfeiffer as Betty Ford and Viola Davis as Michelle Obama.

The series is created by Aaron Cooley and it will also star Judy Greer, Aaron Eckhart, Jayme Lawson, Kristine Forseth and Rhys Wakefield.

Amy Israel, Showtime executive, praised Anderson’s “incredible range and exquisite talent”.

“She is the perfect choice to complete this powerhouse trio, who will inhabit the roles of these iconic women,” Israel said.

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Eleanor Roosevelt served as first lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945. A trailblazing force, she revamped the role of the first lady in the White House, holding her own press conferences and writing newspaper columns.

Gillian Anderson to follow Margaret Thatcher with Eleanor Roosevelt.

Much has been made of Roosevelt’s sexuality by historians. While she never publicly identified as bisexual or lesbian, she once told her daughter Anna that she disliked having sex with her husband, president Franklin D Roosevelt, saying it was an “ordeal to be borne”.

Meanwhile, she had a close relationship with aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart in the 1930s, and later had a close and passionate relationship with Associated Press reporter Lorena Hickok, who was a lesbian. At one point, Eleanor was wrote 10 to 15 page letters to Hickok every day in which she spoke of her desire to hug and kiss her friend.

“I can’t kiss you, so I kiss your ‘picture’ good night and good morning!” Eleanor wrote in one letter to Hickok. She later wore a sapphire ring gifted to her by Hickok to her husband’s inauguration in 1933.

It was later rumoured that Eleanor had a close relationship with Earl Miller, a New York State Police sergeant, who was assigned to be her bodyguard.

Anderson’s new role as Eleanor Roosevelt comes just months after she debuted as Margaret Thatcher in Netflix’s The Crown.

Over a lengthy career Gillian Anderson has earned a reputation as a queer icon (and sex symbol) – so plenty of LGBT+ fans had confusing feelings watching her play the notoriously anti-gay prime minister.

Anderson opened up about her own sexuality in an interview with Out magazine in 2012, saying: “I was in a relationship with a girl for a long time when I was in high school.”

In 2015 she said that “gender is irrelevant” when asked if she would date another woman, telling The Telegraph: “I wouldn’t discount it. I did it before and I’m not closed to that idea. To me a relationship is about loving another human being.”