In continuing his shift from writing to writing and directing, Aaron Sorkin is assembling a star-studded cast for his follow-up to Molly’s Game.
Seth Rogen, Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jonathan Majors, and Alex Sharp are confirmed to star in The Trial of the Chicago 7 for the West Wing and The Social Network scribe.
The film is based on the 1969 trial of “the Chicago Seven,” seven defendants charged by the federal government with multiple offenses — including conspiracy and inciting to riot — arising from counterculture protests in Chicago at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The protests, including a heavy push against the Vietnam War, broke out into riots and clashes with police.
Rogen will play Jerry Rubin opposite Cohen as Abbie Hoffman, Redmayne as Tom Hayden, and Sharp as Rennie Davis, four of the seven defendants.
Majors, known for Hostiles and Dustin Lance Black’s When We Rise miniseries, will play Bobby Seale. Seale, a Black Panther, was the eighth defendant charged when the group was initially dubbed “the Chicago Eight.” The judge had him bound and gagged in the courtroom for “loudly disrupting the trial when he could not have the lawyer of his choice,” according to a Chicago Tribune article from 2008. Seale, whose lawyer was unavailable due to hospitalization, had verbally lashed out at the judge when he was denied a continuation. Seale was eventually sentenced to four years in prison for contempt of court, though it was later reversed.
Gordon-Levitt will play Richard Schultz, one of the two prosecutors in the case.
Sorkin’s script is set in 1968 and 1969, but the film “speaks directly to the divisiveness of our times and how young people can take on power and change the world,” according to the description in a press release.
The Trial of the Chicago 7 marks Sorkin’s sophomore directorial effort following Molly’s Game, which starred Jessica Chastain as titan of the poker arena Molly Bloom. “I’m thrilled to be making a movie about one of the craziest, funniest, most intense, most tragic, and most triumphant trials in American history,” Sorkin said in a statement. “C-7 may take place in the late ’60s, but there’s no better time to tell this story than today.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the project was initially put on hold by producers Amblin Partners over budgetary concerns. Amblin is still on board to produce the film, along with Marc Platt and Matt Jackson.
Rocket Science will handle the international rights and introduce The Trial of the Chicago 7 to foreign buyers in Berlin next week. CAA Media Finance will represent the U.S. rights.
Sorkin, Baron Cohen, Redmayne, Majors and Sharp are represented by CAA, while Gordon-Levitt is represented by WME and Rogen by UTA.