The West Wing was one of NBC’s biggest critical hits of the early 2000s, as well as a huge commercial success for series producer Warner Bros Television, who exported the political drama starring Martin Sheen to more than 100 countries.
Given that, it came as no real surprise when rumours started to surface last month that Warner Bros and NBC were considering bringing the White House set show back to television. The rumours were fairly non-specific; ranging from a movie, to a fully-fledged reboot with a new cast to a reunion event series in a similar vein to Fox’s 24: Live Another Day.
The notion of the show returning in any format got fans talking, but the idea of a reunion has become the preferred route. Rob Lowe was even asked if he would be willing to reprise his role of Sam Seaborn by Huffington Post. The actor said that if series creator Aaron Sorkin wrote it, he would be there “with bells on”.
But would the rest of the cast be quite as eager? In a recent interview with TVWise, Extant star Michael O’Neill, who played US Secret Service Special Agent Ron Butterfield on The West Wing, gave us his thoughts on such a reunion and if he’d be prepared to pick up that badge and gun one more time.
Though initially sceptical about the rumours of the reunion (“You know, like Washington, like London, like a lot of towns, rumours move. So it may just be that.”), he was also elated at the prospect of getting the band back together and seeing what comes out of it. “I can’t tell you how thrilling that would be….to have an opportunity not just to work on it, but to watch what they do”.
But would O’Neill be willing to play Ron Butterfield once more? “Oh, I would”, the actor said. “Sometimes people come up to me and say ‘Wow, you’re Butterfield!’ and I go ‘Well, I’m an older version of that man'”, he joked. “Listen, if the bell rang and they called me, I would swim there in a minute”.
Michael was also quick to agree to the caveat laid down by Rob Lowe: namely that the script needs to be written by Aaron Sorkin, who post West Wing has been focusing on feature films and his HBO series The Newsroom. “Yeah, if Aaron writes it…it would have to be his hand. I understand what Rob meant by that. There is no one else who has quite his vision. I would hope he would pen it and I would hope he’d pen Butterfield in. I would love to revisit that”.