‘Gaslit’ Cast and Characters: Who Were Martha Mitchell, John Mitchell, Mo Dean, and John Dean?

The Starz Watergate drama Gaslit cast is full of A-listers. Julia Roberts, Sean Penn, Dan Stevens, Betty Gilpin and Shea Whigham form the ensemble. The characters they play may be lesser known. Martha Mitchell, John Mitchell, John Dean, and Mo Dean don’t often get movies made about them, though G. Gordon Liddy remained in the spotlight.

'Gaslit' subjects John Mitchell, Martha Mitchell and daughter Marti Mitchell sit together in their living room
L-R: Attorney General John Mitchell, his wife Martha, and daughter Mart i Wally McNamee/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Gaslit executive producer and showrunner Robbie Pickering is here to explain. Pickering on a Television Critics Association panel on Feb. 2 for Gaslit. Here’s what you need to know about the Gaslit cast and the characters they play before Gaslit premieres April 24 on Starz. 

Julia Roberts plays Martha Mitchell in ‘Gaslit’

Gaslit cast Roberts as Martha Mitchell, who suspected her husband’s involvement in the Watergate break-in. After her attempts to report him to the press, the FBI kidnapped her. 

“She was a total conservative cheerleader and a segregationist and all that stuff,” Pickering said. “I kind of have always been fascinated about conservative women like that. I’ve always written about them, because it’s like you want to root for them, because a woman in this movement is kind of punk rock. But also it’s like, eh, you’re punk rock for horrible things. And the duality of Martha having that turned against her, and her not being this just clearcut she’s heroic. A lot of it was she is doing it because she was jealous of the hold Nixon had over her husband, which is kind of a selfish motivation, but that’s the way heroes are made.”

Sean Penn plays John MItchell, and he’s funny

John Mitchell was Nixon’s former campaign manager and served as attorney general during Nixon’s presidency. Pickering said the Gaslit cast Penn for his comedy skills. Is he the Spicoli of Watergate?

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“If you look at what everybody said about John Mitchell in his personal life, they loved him,” Pickering said. “He was a very warm man. And one of our rules in the writers’ room was give Sean Penn funny and likable things to do, because Sean is best when he’s funny. You know, he’s great in Sweet and Lowdown and even movies like Carlito’s Way where he’s hilarious, and so he is in this show, like you have this duality of this guy who is doing horrible things also being warm and funny and likable and you see it, you see that he’s not some monster. He’s a human and maybe that even makes him more monstrous.”

‘Gaslit’ cast Dan Stevens and Betty Gilpin as John and Mo Dean

John Dean was White House Counsel for Richard Nixon and eventually cooperated with prosecutors regarding the cover-up. Maureen, or Mo, was his wife. Gaslit cast Stevens and Gilpin as the couple.

“We’re really making a show about two marriages and how complicity either destroys or binds relationships together,” Pickering said. “In the case of John Dean and Mo Dean, it really bound them together. They’re married to this day.  And in the case of John Mitchell and Martha Mitchell, played by Sean and Julia, it really split them apart and wrecked a really beautiful love between them.”

Shea Whigham plays G. Gordon Liddy

Liddy was one of five men who broke into the Watergate hotel on behalf of Nixon. After serving prison time, Liddy became a radio talk show host. Gaslit cast Whigham as Liddy.

“One of the big things we had to keep in mind in the writers’ room was how dark and evil he [but] how entertaining he is to listen to,” Pickering said. “I used to have to listen to G. Gordon Liddy’s radio show. My stepdad listened to him, his conservative talk show, and he’s really entertaining, and his books about Watergate are the best, but underneath it he basically is a fascist. You really had to keep that darkness in mind and not fall for his charismatic trick in depicting him.”

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