Rob Reiner On ‘LBJ,’ Weinstein, And The Optimism Of ‘The American President’

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Rob Reiner is not one to mince words. He’s not the type of person where you just can’t peg him down on where he stands on something. Reiner only joined Twitter (his father, Carl Reiner, has been on Twitter for years now) so he could have a platform to share his opinion of then-candidate Donald Trump. If you’ve followed Reiner’s career at all, it will come as no surprise that he is not a fan of our current president.

But that’s also interesting in the context of his new film, LBJ, which takes a look at the 36th President of the United States (played by Woody Harrelson) – a president Reiner admits he “hated” back when Johnson in office, primarily because of Johnson’s escalation of the Vietnam War. But history is starting to become kind to Johnson, who passed the Civil Rights Act and championed many important social programs. And now here’s Reiner, making a movie about a president he didn’t care for all that much.

Reiner, who’s been in Hollywood since the late 1960s and has been around the industry his whole life, seems like he’d have a strong opinion on what’s been happening recently with the allegations against not just Harvey Weinstein, but now a whole host of filmmakers and actors. And, not surprisingly, Reiner did have a lot to say.

Lyndon Johnson was very unpopular in the late 1960s…

He was.

Did you dislike him when he was president?

I hated him. I mean, when I was draft age during the Vietnam War, so he was my enemy. I hated him. I didn’t think I’d make a movie about him because that’s the only image I had of him. So when the script was presented, I didn’t even read it. I had to think about this for a while.

Had your opinion of him softened over the years?

It started to soften when I put it in a broader context. In the years I’ve spent growing up and spending time in politics, I started thinking about this guy and realizing, yes, there’s the Vietnam War, but he also had the greatest legislative domestic achievements of any president other than maybe FDR. So you have a tale of two presidencies – who is this guy? So that’s what made me start reexamining him.