Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar lost Charlize Theron two weeks back, but has now replaced her with another refined and undeniably gorgeous blonde starlett in the form of Naomi Watts, who will play lifelong assistant to Hoover himself. How the FBI founder fares in comparison to her King Kong costar… well, that joke writes itself.
Filming on J. Edgar gets underway next month, with Leonardo DiCaprio starring as both the younger and older (with the assistance of makeup) version of the titular historical figure – so everyone can stop with the jokes about Judi Dench portraying an elderly Hoover now.
Theron was considered to be virtually set for Eastwood’s latest project but vacated the role of Hoover’s devoted secretary, Helen Gandy, to instead don a crown as the villainous queen in Snow White and the Huntsman. Deadline reports that Watts was always the frontrunner to replace Theron (though The Fighter‘s Amy Adams was shortlisted as a contender – pun not intended), but the delay in her signing on for the biopic was due to a potential scheduling conflict that has since been resolved.
Eastwood has never struggled to attract well-known talent to his films and J. Edgar will be no exception. In addition to DiCaprio, Dench, and Watts, the 20th century-spanning biographical pic will also feature The Social Network‘s Armie Hammer as Clyde Tolson, Hoover’s alleged lover; Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) president Ken Howard as U.S. attorney general Harlan F. Stone; Justified star Damon Herriman as the convicted Lindbergh baby killer, Bruno Hauptmann; and Josh Lucas as the aviator Charles Lindbergh.
Hoover’s rise to power and establishment of the Federal Bureau of Investigations as a government force to be reckoned with was partly dramatized in Michael Mann’s historical crime thriller, Public Enemies. Oscar-winner Dustin Lance Black’s (Milk) script for J. Edgar is expected to begin around or shortly thereafter the FBI’s crusade against notorious gangsters like John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson in the 1930s, and will chronicle the events of Hoover’s life up to his death in 1972.
While some moviegoers find Eastwood’s meticulously slow but steady approach to storytelling to often be downright frustrating, there’s no denying that he excels at character-driven pieces which examine the actions and behavior of uncompromising men – be they the hard-edged blue collar types in his Mystic River, amoral renegades of the Old West in Unforgiven, or Eastwood’s bitter, crusty Korean War veteran in Gran Torino. J. Edgar Hoover remains a highly-controversial figure for the tactics and policies he implemented during his reign as director of the FBI and should make for quite an interesting case study in Black and Eastwood’s hands.
J. Edgar should arrive in theaters during the fall of 2011, around which time Eastwood will commence work on his next project – a remake of A Star Is Born with pop sensation Beyoncé. Give the man points for flexibility, if nothing else.