Before he was the Commander in Chief of the United States, before he ate lunch with Anthony Bourdain, before the Nobel Peace Prize, and before he was a die-hard Game of Thrones fan and started receiving advanced copies of the show, Barack Obama was once just a 27-year-old summer associate at Sidley & Austin, with a crush on his mentor, Michelle.
Now, director Richard Tanne has immortalized the summer day in 1989 when the future first couple went on their first date in a touching new rom com, Southside With You. The movie premiered at Sundance this year, and will be released in theaters on August 26.
Watch the trailer now:
Beyond providing the inspiration, the Obamas weren't involved in the project. Richard Tanne admits he had to do some digging to find the information about what they really did on their first date. He told Vanity Fair:
"I pretty much just culled from the public-domain articles, interviews, videos... just whatever I could get my hands on. And through the years I have been reading as many books as possible. Of course there wasn't a note taker on the dates, so you just have to extrapolate from what's there."
Here's What Barack and Michelle Definitely DID Do On Their First Date:
- They went to the Art Institute of Chicago, and then had lunch.
- They saw Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing, a movie about racial tension in a Brooklyn neighborhood.
- They went to Baskin-Robbins and shared their first kiss outside. Listen to Barack tell the story himself on The View:
- Barack did actually drive a yellow Datsun with a rusted-out floor.
- He really was a summer associate at Sidley & Austin, and Michelle really was his mentor.
- According to an interview she gave to the Washington Post, Michelle really did resist going out with Barack because she thought it would be "tacky" if "the only two black people" at the firm started dating. Tika Sumpter says almost that exact line in the trailer!
- The community organizing meeting might not have happened on the first date, but it did happen at some point, and it added to the story. Richard Tanne explained why he stuck it in:
"There was some question as to whether or not the community organizing meeting happened on the first date, or if it just happened early in the courtship but dramatically it worked, so I just put it in. Again, it's a fictionalized account, so I tried to be as authentic as possible.”
Tika Sumpter, who plays Michelle and was also a producer for the movie, was involved in the project from early on. In an interview with Vogue, she describes how she hopes the Obamas will be happy with the homage to their relationship:
"I want them to know that it was done with love and respect and not exploiting them or anything like that. I just hope that they look at each other with more googly eyes and remember it all again. I hope they realize that they feel the love and they feel the intelligence and they feel the vulnerability and the complexity of these two beautiful human beings that they are and that they started out being."
Southside With You premieres in theaters on August 26.