All 6 Living Presidents, A-List Stars and Other Notables to Read From America’s Founding Documents for HBO Film

Former Vice President Dick Cheney and filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi behind the scenes of The Words That Built America
Courtesy HBO
Former Vice President Dick Cheney and filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi behind the scenes of The Words That Built America

President Donald Trump, along with former Presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, will take part in director Alexandra Pelosi’s new HBO film The Words That Built America, premiering, appropriately, on July 4.

Along with these six living U.S. presidents, the film will feature an impressive array of other past and present vice presidents, senators, congresspeople, Supreme Court justices, cabinet secretaries and ambassadors; as well as various non-political celebrities, and a group of middle-school students, all from across the political spectrum.

In the film, these people will read aloud the formative American documents: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The 45-minute special is narrated by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough (John Adams).

“When you hear the words of our founding fathers read by such an illustrious group of people, it serves as a potent reminder of the dreams that launched this democracy,” said Sheila Nevins, president, HBO Documentary Films.

HBO is making The Words That Built America widely available, beyond its network airing: It will be seen on HBO On Demand, HBO Now and HBO GO, and through streaming partners. It will also be accessible to non-HBO subscribers, who will be able to view the whole special on and the HBO YouTube channel. A companion curriculum is being developed for students and educators for when they talk about these documents in the classroom.

Here’s the full list of documents that will be featured in The Words That Built America, along with their readers (names are presented alphabetically):

The Declaration of Independence

Read by: Kevin Bacon, Jack Black, Tucker Carlson, Common, Anderson Cooper, Bryan Cranston, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, America Ferrera, Morgan Freeman, Sean Hannity, Neil Patrick Harris, Samuel L. Jackson, Caitlyn Jenner, Dwayne Johnson, Toby Keith, Megyn Kelly, Kid Rock, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Yo-Yo Ma, Peggy Noonan, Rosie O’Donnell, Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Vince Vaughn, Kerry Washington, Fareed Zakaria

A facsimile of the Declaration of Independence (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The U.S. Constitution

Read by:

Presidents: George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Donald Trump

Vice Presidents: Joe Biden, Dick Cheney, Al Gore, Walter Mondale, Mike Pence, Dan Quayle

Supreme Court Justices: Stephen Breyer, Anthony Kennedy, John Roberts

U.S. Senators: Lamar Alexander, Tammy Baldwin, John Barrasso, Roy Blunt, John Boozman, Shelley Moore Capito, Ben Cardin, Tom Carper, Susan Collins, Bob Corker, Ted Cruz, Tammy Duckworth, Dick Durbin, Deb Fischer, Jeff Flake, Al Franken, Cory Gardner, Kirsten Gillibrand, Lindsey Graham, Charles Grassley, Kamala Harris, John Hoeven, Tim Kaine, Angus King, Amy Klobuchar, Patrick Leahy, Ed Markey, Catherine Cortez Masto, John McCain, Claire McCaskill, Mitch McConnell, Chris Murphy, Patty Murray, Rob Portman, Jack Reed, Pat Roberts, Chuck Schumer, Tim Scott, Richard Shelby, Debbie Stabenow, Luther Strange, Jon Tester, John Thune, Chris Van Hollen, Mark Warner, Elizabeth Warren, Roger Wicker, Ron Wyden, Todd Young

Congressmen and Congresswomen: Joaquin Castro, Joe Crowley, Joe Kennedy, John Lewis, Kevin McCarthy, Nancy Pelosi, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Paul Ryan, Eric Swalwell, Maxine Waters

Governors: Chris Christie, Andrew Cuomo, John Hickenlooper, John Kasich, Terry McAuliffe, Brian Sandoval

Cabinet Secretaries: Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld

Ambassador: Nikki Haley

The Bill of Rights

Read by: Middle-school students from the United Nations International School

The Words That Built America, Tuesday, July 4, 7/6c, HBO