A conservative folk singer turns his hand to politics, running for the US Senate. He is not above dirty tricks and smear campaigns to gain an advantage over his opponent.


Tim Robbins


Tim Robbins
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 4 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Tim Robbins ... Bob Roberts
Giancarlo Esposito ... Bugs Raplin
Alan Rickman ... Lukas Hart III
Ray Wise ... Chet MacGregor
Brian Murray ... Terry Manchester
Gore Vidal ... Senator Brickley Paiste
Rebecca Jenkins ... Delores Perrigrew
Harry Lennix ... Franklin Dockett
John Ottavino John Ottavino ... Clark Anderson
Robert Stanton ... Bart Macklerooney
Kelly Willis Kelly Willis ... Clarissa Flan
Merrilee Dale Merrilee Dale ... Polly Roberts
Tom Atkins ... Dr. Caleb Menck
David Strathairn ... Mack Laflin
James Spader ... Chuck Marlin


Documentary-style look at the fictional Senatorial campaign of Bob Roberts, an arch-conservative folk singer turned politician. This political satire includes several original songs co-written and performed by writer/director/star Tim Robbins, and cameo appearances by other stars as reporters and news anchors. Written by Scott Renshaw <as.idc@forsythe.stanford.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Vote first. Ask questions later. See more »


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for momentary language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The "Cutting Edge Live" TV show segment is shot at WQED's studio in Pittsburgh, home of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (1968). King Friday's castle can be seen in the background as the production assistant storms across the soundstage to cut the power. When Fred Rogers was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award for Daytime Television in 1997, Tim Robbins was the presenter. See more »


In a scene where Bob gets off the bus in "Harrisburg" a police barrier clearly says "City of Philadelphia." See more »


Chuck Marlin: I could use a strong finisher myself sometimes
See more »

Crazy Credits

Towards the end of the final credits, there is a heart-shaped outline surrounding the initials EMLA, JHR, MGR & SS (SS is in the center)... These stand for Susan Sarandon, their two children together, Jack Henry Robbins & Miles Guthrie Robbins, his step-daughter Eva Maria Livia Amurri (Susan's daughter with film-maker, Franco Amurri.) This is also in the credits for "Cradle Will Rock", another Tim Robbins directed film. Thanks are given to "The Bob Roberts Dancers"... See more »


The Voting Song
Music and Lyrics by David Robbins & Tim Robbins
Produced and Arranged by David Robbins
Additional Vocal and Guitar by Kelly Willis
Robbins Egg Music (c) 1992, A.S.C.A.P.
See more »

User Reviews

Bob Roberts Could Be The President
9 March 2004 | by flickershowsSee all my reviews

Tim Robbins made his politics perfectly clear in his writing/directing debut, 'Bob Roberts'. By taking swipes at two-faced politicians and the grinning-idiot members of the mainstream media who cover them, Robbins managed to make his left-wing cause with humour. Although this film is a comedy, it's not often laugh-out-loud funny, but it's actually quite balanced politically. I never felt this was turning into a polemic because ANY politician who runs a dishonest campaign---no matter which "wing" they represent---will feel the sting of this mockumentary.

As the title character, Robbins plays a right-wing senatorial candidate in Pennsylvania who badmouths the revolution of the '60s while prostituting '60s images and reworking old folk songs to sell his corrupt message. It's quite amusing to hear an outspoken actor play a guy who's such a polar opposite. Roberts has it in for drug users, the homeless, the unemployed, and any other group who aren't in the upper class. While the documentary filmmakers shoot all sorts of footage that can help the candidate look great, they also manage to get many shots of the Roberts team at their worst. To be honest, it might have been even more effective if Robbins didn't paint this man as the sleaze he really is. Letting the hateful folk songs (which are performed with great cheer) and the money-hungry message speak for themselves might indeed have been more powerful. Scenes of dissension and anger in the Roberts camp almost undermine what the film is trying to do.

As an actor, Tim Robbins has been in an equal mix of drama and comedy. It's interesting that the rookie director would follow this sly satire with the dead-serious 'Dead Man Walking'. It shows his range that he could be funny here while also expressing strong views, then dial it down for stark pathos while still expressing strong views in 'Dead Man Walking'. In these two films and in 'Cradle Will Rock', he uses his friends and stock company of familiar names (including wife Susan Sarandon, Jack Black, John Cusack, Bob Balaban, and several family members).

If 'This Is Spinal Tap', 'Best In Show', and 'Real Life' are among the best mockumentaries, 'Bob Roberts' is just a notch below. It doesn't have a particularly strong ending and the entire assassination subplot plays out as way too obvious. Giancarlo Esposito (Roberts chief pain-in-the-ass) is an annoying actor and his radical reporter character never benefits the film. Still, the sharp pokes this film takes are deserved and seem to be right on target. Here we are, 12 years later, and the movie is just as topical now. Not all political films manage to pull THAT off. Take a look at the poster, where the villainous Bob Roberts is draped in the American flag. The current administration would love this guy.

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Release Date:

4 September 1992 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bob Roberts See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$314,275, 7 September 1992

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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