Matt Damon’s long-brewing Robert F. Kennedy biopic has found its director: The Dark Tower‘s Nikolaj Arcel. The project has been in the works since at least 2010, when Damon was first attached to star. Gary Ross was previously on board to direct with Steven Knight writing the script, but things have since shifted. Damon, for his part, has expressed continued interest in the movie, telling CNBC in 2014 that he would love to play the role if they could find a way to make it work, but that it was “very difficult to [put his story] into two hours.”
At the time, it was reported that the feature would trace Kennedy’s ascent from a politician in the shadow of his president brother, John F. Kennedy, to a strong national leader in his own right. He ran JFK’s successful 1960 presidential campaign and served as both his top adviser and the U.S. Attorney General between 1961 and 1963. He remained in the post for President Lyndon B. Johnson for several months after his brother’s assassination, then resigned to run for the U.S. Senate, representing New York. He went on to campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination on the platform of ending U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, but was assassinated in June 1968.
According to Variety, Arcel will now direct from a script he co-wrote with Felipe Marino (Madam Bovarie) and Rasmus Heisterberg, the latter of whom he worked with on his Oscar-nominated historical drama A Royal Affair (2012) and the Swedish-language The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2009). Damon will produce alongside Jennifer Todd (Jason Bourne) and Drew Vinton (Promised Land). Production on the movie is set to start early next year.
The news comes just weeks before the theatrical release of Arcel’s highly anticipated Stephen King adaptation The Dark Tower, starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. It marks the director’s first major American feature, and though reviews have yet to come in, the expectations are high. Should it do well, it will be a major launching pad for Arcel’s international career, and a star-powered project like Damon’s RFK biopic is an apt way to keep up momentum.
Kennedy’s life was previously documented in 2006 drama Bobby, directed by Emilio Estevez, but was limited to the hours leading up to his death. If Arcel’s take is true to the original description that was floated around, it sounds like it will be a more expansive look at the late politician.
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