Originally posted 08/08/2014 03:00PM
On Aug. 8, 1974 – exactly 40 years ago Friday – Richard Nixon made history by becoming the first (and so far only) president to resign from office.
We couldn't mark the occasion by interviewing the real Nixon (he's been dead since 1994) so we did the next best thing: Talk to actor Harry Shearer, the Simpsons
and Spinal Tap
alum who plays the 37th president in Nixon's the One
, a comedy series based on Nixon's secretly recorded conversations in the Oval Office.
As you might expect from an actor who underwent four hours of makeup to step into Nixon's famous features, the series is the culmination of Shearer's decades-long fascination with the president.
"The comic value of Nixon was evident from a very young age," Shearer told PEOPLE. "Growing up in southern California, he was an omnipresent political force hovering over all of us."