Film centers on Ted Kennedy and the 1969 car crash that killed Mary Jo Kopechne

By Oliver Gettell
Updated August 31, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT
Credit: Robin Marchant/Getty Images; Jason Merritt/Getty Images
  • Movie

Jim Gaffigan and Olivia Thirlby are headed to Chappaquiddick, the political thriller centering on the infamous 1969 car crash that claimed the life of Mary Jo Kopechne when Sen. Ted Kennedy was at the wheel.

Gaffigan, who recently concluded the two-season run of his sitcom The Jim Gaffigan Show, will play Paul F. Markham, the longtime Kennedy friend and former U.S. attorney for Massachusetts. Thirlby (Dredd, Juno) will play one of Kopechne’s fellow “boiler room girls,” who met while working on Robert Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign and attended the party that preceded the deadly crash.

Gaffigan and Thirlby join a cast that includes Jason Clarke as Ted Kennedy, Kate Mara as Kopechne, Ed Helms as Joe Gargan, and Bruce Dern as Joe Kennedy.

The film will recount how, on the eve of the moon landing, Sen. Kennedy accidentally drove his car off a bridge, plunging him and Kopechne into the water below. She was trapped in the car and died, while he escaped and later pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident.

John Curran (Tracks, The Painted Veil) is directing Chappaquiddick from a script by Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan. Principal photography is set to start Sept. 7 in Boston.


  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • John Curran