Andrew Cuomo as Lincoln, Churchill, Harry the King, a Scorcese Character, a Sinatra singer.

From a Washington Post column by movie critic Ann Hornaday headlined “Cuomo in the role he was made for”:

“We all have a role to play,” New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said at his daily press briefing on Monday. “And we have to respect the role that we play.”

And, really, has the world ever been more of a stage?

As Cuomo’s news conferences about the coronavirus pandemic have become appointment viewing for millions of new fans across the country, the role he’s been assigned now feels as if it were meant for him all along.

These convergences — of actors, projected personae, moments in time — have happened before: Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet. Maria Falconetti’s Saint Joan. Marlon Brando’s Stanley Kowalski. If politics is stagecraft — “show business for ugly people,” as campaign starmaker Paul Begala famously said — then it stands to reason that politicians are capable of bottling that particular lightning as well.

Abraham Lincoln understood this, channeling his love for theater while refining his own declamatory style; Winston Churchill’s greatest creation might have been the beloved and respected World War II leader known as Winston Churchill. At least in part, audiences are flocking to Cuomo’s daily PowerPoint presentations not just for raw data, but for his convincing, emotionally transparent portrayal of an authority figure we gravitate toward, for reasons we can’t quite articulate. . . .

“Look, people are dying,” he barked with the blunt-force drama of an Aaron Sorkin character, before announcing that he would double the fine for disobeying his social-distancing protocol. “You don’t have the right to risk someone else’s life. . . . You just don’t have the right.”. . .

One reason for his instinctive appeal might be that Cuomo cuts such a familiar iconographic figure. With vocal cadences that recall his Italian American roots in Queens, Cuomo could be a character immortalized by Martin Scorsese — a guy who slices garlic thin with a razor, so it liquefies in the pan with just a little oil, but who also happens to know his way around ventilators and personal protection equipment. . . .

Of course, glib comparisons to “Goodfellas” and its Cosa Nostra archetypes are lazily, unforgivably offensive. That makes it all the more exhilarating to watch Cuomo turn those cliches on their heads, much as his father, former New York governor Mario Cuomo, did at his most scholarly and statesmanlike. Once accused of trying too hard to imitate his father’s Jesuitical style, now Andrew has comfortably settled into his own: His voice, infused with Empire State swagger and a faint dis-and-dat patois, may evoke strong-arming in smoke-filled rooms, but he’s as likely to use it to talk about the Headspace meditation app as “flattening the curve.” (Just try listening to him precisely enunciate the word “mentality” and not immediately hear Frank Sinatra crooning “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.”). . . .

His father was once dubbed “Hamlet on the Hudson,” for his indecision regarding a presidential run in 1992. A generation later, Andrew has emerged as Harry the King, delivering his soliloquies to scattered reporters — “we happy few” — in the echoing expanses of the Capitol’s Red Room, as well as to millions of Americans whose Agincourt is a poignant landscape of empty streets, shuttered stores and six-foot cordons sanitaires.

We all have a role to play.

The one that Cuomo slips effortlessly into, day after day, happens to be the role of our lifetime.

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