Woody Harrelson transforms into 36th President of the United States Lyndon Baines Johnson in the new trailer for director Rob Reiner's historical biopic LBJ. The film screened last year at TIFF and is set to have its official release in November.
Based on a former Black List script by Joey Hartstone, LBJ focuses on the tumultuous period after Vice President Johnson took over the presidency in the wake of John F. Kennedy's assassination, and his subsequent efforts to pass the Civil Rights Act in Kennedy's name. The film also takes time to trace Johnson's years as a young man in West Texas. LBJ co-stars Jennifer Jason Leigh as Lady Bird Johnson, Jeffrey Donovan as John Kennedy, Michael Stahl-David as Bobby Kennedy, and Richard Jenkins as Senator Richard Russell.
The first trailer for LBJ from Electric Entertainment affords a glimpse of Woody Harrelson's transformation -- with help from a very prominent prosthetic chin and ears -- into Lyndon Johnson. Harrelson may look very different with all that make-up on his face but the gleam in his eye is the same as always. The trailer emphasizes Johnson's famously eccentric behavior, showing him cursing, having a meeting while sitting on the toilet and taking one of the Kennedys out for a little hunting trip.
The trailer's tone shifts notably at the moment when John Kennedy is shot, a scene that appears to have been faithfully recreated. We then see Johnson being whisked to Air Force One for the famous impromptu swearing-in with Jackie Kennedy (Kim Allen) by his side. For the most part, the trailer seems to promise fairly straightforward historical staging, with some dashes of humor amid the solemnly presented material.
It will be interesting to see what kind of spin Woody Harrelson puts on the character of LBJ, a figure who has been tackled quite a bit in movies recently, most notably by Bryan Cranston in the HBO movie All the Way and also by Tom Wilkinson in Ava Duvernay's Oscar-winning Selma. Cranston mostly won raves for his performance as Johnson, but the character's portrayal in Selma was criticized for being biased.
Harrelson has not often tackled roles that require him to transform himself physically, and it's somewhat strange seeing him in heavy prosthetic make-up in LBJ, though it's clearly still Woody Harrelson in the trailer. It's been a busy time for Harrelson, with his villainous turn in War for the Planet of the Apes, his comedic performance in Wilson and of course his upcoming appearance as Beckett in the young Han Solo movie. Veteran director Rob Reiner has tackled lots of genres in his career, but isn't necessarily associated with historical dramas, though he did do the Medgar Evers story in 1996's Ghosts of Mississippi. He's dealt with the presidency before too, in the fictional romantic drama The American President starring Michael Douglas and Annette Bening.
LBJ is expected in theaters on November 3, 2017.
Source: Electric Entertainment