Woody Harrelson has been tapped to play former U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson in an upcoming Rob Reiner-directed biopic, titled LBJ.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, LBJ will follow the chaotic political atmosphere the 36th President faced following the assassination of President Kennedy in November 1963.
“With political battles on both sides of the aisle, Johnson struggles to heal a nation and secure his presidency by passing Kennedy’s historic Civil Rights Act,” the industry news site reports.
Production will begin in September in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, with stops in Dallas and Washington.
Left-leaning actor and Oscar-nominated director Rob Reiner spoke to the Hollywood Reporter about the upcoming film, and said Johnson’s life’s life was “nothing short of Shakespearean.”
“From the poor hill country of West Texas to the corridors of power in Washington,” he said. “He used his brilliant political acumen to pass the most groundbreaking civil rights legislation of the 20th century.”
Reiner added: “had it not been for the Vietnam War, I believe he would have gone down as one of America’s greatest presidents.”
The 68-year-old continued:
“During the ’60s, I was a hippy, and Lyndon Johnson was my president. At the time LBJ was the target of most of my generation’s anti-Vietnam War anger. But as time has passed and my understanding of political realities has grown.
I’ve come to see LBJ in a very different light. He was a complex man, a combination of brilliant political instinct, raw strength, ambition and deep insecurities.”
Reiner, a once sought after director, who helmed films such as Stand By Me, When Harry Met Sally, and A Few Good Men, has struggled to direct a critically favorable film since the 1990s, unless you count a 2007 Award of the Japanese Academy nomination for Bucket List.
He made headlines last August, when he compared the conservative Tea Party movement to Hamas.
“…anytime you’re dealing with an extreme group, you cannot negotiate with them, and they way to do it is to eliminate it, with the tea party, you have to go through political thing, you have to wait till 2020 to redistrict, but, ugh, that is really tough stuff,” he told Larry King.
LBJ is being produced by Acacia Entertainment, Savvy Media Holdings, Castle Rock Entertainment and Star Thrower Entertainment, per THR, and was originally developed by brothers Tim and Trevor White.
No release date has been set.