By Jessica Marshall
The vampire-slaying exploits of America's 16th president are getting major press this week with the release of the big-screen adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith's bestselling, pseudo-historical novel "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter."
Timur Bekmambetov directs and Benjamin Walker stars in the film, which paints a surprisingly convincing picture of how the President's quest for vengeance against vampires could have shaped our country's history.
All things being equal, Honest Abe couldn't possibly be the only world leader to have supernatural beings (other than skeletons) in his closet. Surely the weird hobbies and strange experiences that others have notoriously had could translate to equally compelling books and films.
Here are five more world leaders and their experiences that lend themselves quite nicely to a tale of fantastical historical fiction.
Theodore Roosevelt – Demon Hunter
The 26th president of the United States would never just sit back and let anything in life defeat him. After he lost his final bid for the presidency to William Howard Taft in 1912, he set off on an expedition to explore hitherto unexplored regions of the Amazon River. He and his son Kermit (yes, his name really was Kermit) went where no civilized man had ever gone before to chart a dangerous pass of the river. Much of what happened there is undocumented and many mysteries about his journeys remain. Though Roosevelt survived the harrowing trek, he ended up dying of illnesses he contracted along the way. What if his journeys led him deep into the heart of the Amazonian spirit world, where he had to fight for his life against powerful South American spirits like El Tunchi, La Lupuna, and El Chullanchaqui? The butt-kicking Bull Moose president would surely have put up a glorious fight, rife with special effects that would translate very well on film.
John Quincy Adams – Mythbuster
While you may not ever have an inkling to watch this on a big screen—our nation's sixth president wasn’t known to have been a handsome guy—JQA made a habit of swimming naked in the Potomac around 5 a.m. every morning. But what seems like a creepy pastime could actually have been a vital part of his famous foreign policy and fiscal strategies. It’s not implausible that back in the 1820s, deep beneath the rolling current of the mighty Potomac, John Quincy Adams discovered the lost city of Atlantis. Did he broker a deal for regular trade with the Atlanteans—possibly the fabled city's precious metals for hardy American crops—in order to famously pay off a good chunk of the national debt? But why do this naked? Perhaps clothing offended Atlantean customs. We'll never know the truth.
Margaret Thatcher – Ghost Hunter
The Iron Lady made no secret of her love for opera, and frequently attended performances. But what if she didn't just sit back and enjoy the show? Everyone knows old opera houses are hotbeds for supernatural activity, so while a body double pretended to watch the show each night, maybe the Prime Minister crept backstage to vanquish evil phantoms and ghosts who threatened her beloved productions. And perhaps she would combine her ghost-busting chops with her background as a trained chemist to cook up potions and spells to fight all kinds of specters, "Supernatural" style.
Jimmy Carter - X-Filer
One night in Leary, Georgia, in 1969, President Carter claimed he saw a U.F.O. Whether it was really a U.F.O. or refracted light from the planet Venus, no one can confirm, and Carter has since denied that he thought it was actually an alien ship. But what if it was? And what if that wasn't the first one he'd seen? If so, it's not out of the question that the former president's family peanut farm in rural Georgia was beset by crop circles and U.F.O. sightings during his youth, which increased in frequency until he came of age and had first contact. But when they didn't come in peace, Jimmy wasn't about to let them invade the world—so he fought them off and stole their technology. Perhaps that's why he ultimately established the first Department of Energy as president—to study it and use it for the good of the American people.
Mikhail Gorbachev – Werewolf Slayer
The former world leader famous for helping to dissolve the Soviet Union (and for the gigantic birthmark on his head) could conceivably have spent his childhood in a small Russian village fighting werewolves. In 1933, he claims that an intense famine took the lives of half his village. What if it wasn't famine at all, but werewolves—and they were killing his fellow citizens? When Mikhail lost several relatives, including his sisters, he vowed to see every last werewolf wiped from this earth. With the help of a few loyal comrades, Mikhail took out the werewolf clan terrorizing his village, suffering only a gash to the head (which he claims is only a birthmark). Then he took the fight all the way to the top many years later, where a faction of high-powered werewolves masked as politicians were trying to keep the Soviet Union intact as a means to gather power and influence to take over the world.
Bonus: Kim Jong Il – Mutant Zapper
What if the popular "Kim Jong Il Looking at Things" blog is on to something? What if Kim Jong Il had the power to see evil, and vanquish it with a single glare, much like "X-Men" hero Cyclops? Since there's so much we don't know about what went on in North Korea while the Dear Leader was alive, there's precious little proof that this wasn't true. It's a good explanation for why he constantly wore sunglasses, and in Kim Jong Il's untold story, he single-handedly protected his country from mutant produce, textiles, technology, and livestock (among other dangerous, mutant elements). Yes, one look and the mutant threats were extinguished.