Seth Rogen is set to portray legendary newsman Walter Cronkite in a new drama called Newsflash, based on the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The actor’s big role this year was in James Franco’s acclaimed Tommy Wiseau biopic The Disaster Artist, which is up for two big awards at the Golden Globes. Though Rogen himself likely won’t be up for any major awards, you can reasonably expect to see him in some capacity at the Oscars next March.
Clearly, Rogen is best known as a prolific comedic actor with memorable turns in movies like Neighbors, This is the End, and Superbad. However, going as far back as Judd Apatow’s 2009 dramedy Funny People and Sara Polley’s 2011 drama Take This Waltz, he’s also sunk his teeth into more serious performances over the years, and Cronkite could be easily his weightiest role yet.
Deadline first reported on Monday that Rogen will portray Cronkite in Newsflash, which will center around the iconic CBS Evening News anchor’s reporting on the JFK assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. Rogen will reunite with Pineapple Express director David Gordon Green on the project. The assassination is known for its major impact on television news reporting and the moment a visibly shaken Cronkite first delivered the news that President Kennedy had died.
Former Warner Bros. exec Greg Silverman’s Stampede Ventures will produce the project along with screenwriter Ben Jacoby. The film is expected to follow Cronkite, producer Dan Hewitt, boss Jim Aubrey, and a young Dan Rather as they work to uncover the truth about what happened to the president on that infamous day. Deadline notes that Mark Ruffalo is being courted to play Hewitt, while Bryan Cranston could be eyed to play Aubrey – but Rogen and Green are the only two to commit so far.
This won’t be the first time Rogen portrayed a real person in a dramatic film. He played Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak in Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs biopic in 2015. With Rogen now taking the lead role and portraying such a revered figure, he has a big-time opportunity to take a leap forward as an actor. He could be on the same path as Tom Hanks and Bill Murray, who earned widespread acclaim as dramatic performers after getting their starts in comedy.
It remains to be seen whether Rogen truly has the acting chops to deliver the kind of performance that launched Hanks into another stratosphere with Oscar-winning roles in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump. His portrayal of Cronkite is the kind of role that often gets attention come awards season – sort of like Franco as Wiseau in The Disaster Artist. Newsflash may end up being slickly directed and sharply written, but its success or failure will almost certainly hinge on Rogen’s central performance.
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