Clint Eastwood signs to direct J. Edgar Hoover biopic

03.10.10 7 years ago 2 Comments

Warner Bros./FBI archives

This is seriously great news.

I’m not always in love with each of Clint Eastwood’s movies, but I think he’s one of those directors whose no-nonsense approach and tireless work ethic is fascinating.  And when it does connect for me, I tend to fall head over heels.  In most cases, it just boils down to subject matter.

And believe me… J. Edgar Hoover is about a good a source of material as there is for a biopic.

One of my particular strange avenues of interest over the years has been the history of espionage and intelligence in the United States and around the world.  There’s something about the notion of how information is gathered and used and turned into currency that I find endlessly fascinating.  And if you’re interested in that subject, you cannot avoid J. Edgar Hoover.  He was hugely important to the way this country’s culture developed, both because of what he did and what he struggled to suppress.

Dustin Lance Black, who won the Academy Award for his screenplay for “Milk,” has already written the script for producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard.  They were going to make the film at Universal, but it’s in turnaround now, and with Eastwood signing on to direct, a safe assumption would be that the film will end up at Warner Bros.

I’m curious how much of Hoover’s life the film is going to cover.  Hoover helped start the FBI in the ’30s and was director of the bureau until he died in 1972.  That’s an unbelievable time period, full of turbulent changes in society, and Hoover was ground zero for all of it.  He bullied anyone who he considered a threat to American values, including people like Martin Luther King, Jr., and he kept files on everyone in the government, unafraid to use what he knew, even against seated Presidents.

I’m curious, based on Black’s personal life and his work on “Milk,” if he decides to delve into the much-discussed and still-debated notion that Hoover was a closeted homosexual whose longtime partner Clyde Toulson was also a major presence at the FBI.  I think it’s factual, but because of how closely Hoover protected his secrets, it’s the hardest material to approach, and I’d be curious to see how it was handled.

Overall, the announcement raises tons of questions, and all of them are promising.  This is one I’ll be paying close attention to as it works its way through development and towards production.

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