“Politics in this country — take it from me — is on the verge of becoming another form of athletic competition or sporting match. … I tremble for my country when I think we may, in fact, get the kind of leaders we deserve.”
That was a prescient line from the final speech of Senator Gary Hart’s presidential bid in 1987, when he withdrew from the race amid a personal scandal involving a model, a yacht, and press that was no longer willing to overlook such indiscretions.
Could he have still been a strong president? We’ll never know.
Hart was paraphrasing Thomas Jefferson, and in this new image, we see Hugh Jackman channeling Hart for a scene in director Jason Reitman’s The Front Runner, which started shooting today in Georgia.
Reitman has described the film as a comedy, but one with bittersweet undertones. In his prime, Hart was considered an expert on foreign policy, someone who foresaw the rise of extremism in the Middle East and the collapse of the Soviet Union as the Cold War became a different kind of adversarial relationship.
That fell apart when the media began investigating a photograph of him with model Donna Rice on his lap at a party on a yacht with the wince-inducing name Monkey Business.
Hart is still married to his wife, Lee (played in the film by Vera Farmiga, a Reitman veteran from Up in the Air), and the couple will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary next year. But the scandal eroded his presidential campaign, and some theorize it contributed to chasing good people away from public service because their personal lives were imperfect.
“Like anyone, I look at the political landscape right now and just wonder how we got here,” Reitman told EW in June. “There isn’t any one answer, but Matt Bai’s book about the Hart candidacy raised interesting questions and offered a thread I wanted to pull.”
The film is based on Bai’s 2014 book All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid, and Bai co-wrote the script with Reitman and former Hillary Clinton spokesman Jay Carson, who is also a producer on House of Cards.
You can check out the full cast of The Front Runner in this gallery.
The Front Runner is being produced independently by Aaron Gilbert (Fences), Helen Estabrook (Whiplash), and Reitman through Gilbert’s production company Bron Studios.