Woody Harrelson is ready to deliver the Johnson treatment.
Production began Monday on LBJ, director Rob Reiner’s biopic starring Harrelson as Lyndon Baines Johnson, and EW has an exclusive first look at the actor’s striking transformation into our 36th president.
Clad in a conservative charcoal suit and glasses and set against an inky background, Harrelson channels Johnson’s formidable presence in a scene set circa 1961, during a D.C. committee meeting on equal opportunity employment.
With a script by Joey Hartstone, LBJ covers five years in Johnson’s political life, from 1959 to 1964, including his time in the Senate, his vice presidency under John F. Kennedy, and his being thrust into the most powerful office in the world after Kennedy’s assassination.
The film also stars Richard Jenkins as Sen. Richard Russell, Bill Pullman as Sen. Ralph Yarborough, Jeffrey Donovan as President Kennedy, Kim Allen as Jacqueline Kennedy, and Jennifer Jason Leigh as Lady Bird Johnson.
In a statement Monday, Reiner said, “During the ’60s, I was a hippy and Lyndon Johnson was my president … and 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’s film is one of several recent works to feature Johnson. Tom Wilkinson portrayed Johnson in Selma last year, and Bryan Cranston is playing him in HBO’s All the Way, reprising his Tony-winning role.
LBJ is eyeing a 2016 release.