News / Arts & Entertainment

'J. Edgar' Centers on Controversial FBI Director

Penelope Poulou

Academy award-winning filmmaker Clint Eastwood has teamed up with actor Leonardo DiCaprio on J. Edgar, a biopic of the former FBI head, J.Edgar Hoover, who died in 1972. The film focuses on J.Edgar's controversial personality. It follows him as he made the Federal Bureau of Investigations into one of the country's most powerful agencies and became one of the most powerful political figures of his time.

The plot spans more than 50 years, eight presidencies and three wars. It portrays Hoover as a Macchiavelian figure who believes that the end justifies the means.

He systematically collects information on U.S. citizens and politicians. No one is above suspicion.



J.Edgar:
"Do you remember that file we created on his wife?"
Helen Gandy: "Mrs. Roosevelt?"
J.Edgar: "You make a copy for me please?"
Tolson, J.Egar's no.2:  "Is that legal?"
J.Edgar: "Sometimes you need to bend the rules a little in order to keep your country safe."

Clint Eastwood some parts of the film are dramatic license. But, he says, much about Hoover's Federal Bureau of Investigation and the power it wielded is corroborated.  

Clint Eastwood right, and Leonardo DiCaprio on the set of "J. Edgar"
Clint Eastwood right, and Leonardo DiCaprio on the set of "J. Edgar"

"He was a very important figure, the top federal cop, and he probably was the most powerful guy in the country," Eastwood says.

The film alleges Hoover collected information on political figures like President John F. Kennedy, with wire taps.

It shows him using the transcripts as political leverage. Motivated by his fear of communism,  Hoover  tries to convince Attorney General Robert Kennedy to step up political surveillance of Americans. 

Bullying aside, the film portrays Hoover as a public relations expert who mingled in Hollywood and  exaggerated his achievements.

Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover in "J. Edgar"
Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover in "J. Edgar"

But Eastwood also shows him as a visionary, whose forensics led to the arrest of the likes of John Dillinger, a notorious gangster of the 1930s.

And the film digs into Hoover's emotional make up. We see young J. Edgar idolizing his mother, who fuels his ambitions.  

The film also addresses rumors about J.Edgar Hoover's sexual orientation.

Hoover's deputy, Clyde Tolson, is shown with the FBI head to the end.    

Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, that after he wrote the screenplay for Milk, about gay activist Harvey Milk, he became intrigued with Hoover.

"I had just done the whole story how coming out of the closet and embracing your nature can give great hope, and I wondered what's the other side of that," Black explains. "And I felt we potentially could benefit from learning and creating this cautionary tale about a man who denied love."   

Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer in "J. Edgar"
Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer in "J. Edgar"

Leonardo DiCaprio offers a daring performance.   

"This is an incredibly important American figure to take on," notes DiCaprio, "and so we needed the immense amount of research that Lance had done beforehand and I think he needed my interpretation of how he was going to put that up on the screen."  

The actor likes to play controversial figures and he might get an Oscar for this one.

"He probably could," agrees Eastwood. "He is very good. He's an excellent actor. I liked working with him."

The rest of the cast is equally formidable: Judi Dench as the overpowering mother; Naomi Watts as Hoover's steadfast secretary Helen Gandy; and Armie Hammer as Clyde Tolson, balancing the frustration of unrequited love with dignity.  

Eastwood depicts Hoover as ruthless, but also patriotic. As for his personal life? It remains shrouded in secrecy like much of the information he amassed.

You May Like

As AIDS Epidemic Matures, Workplaces Adapt

Issue of AIDS in workplace is one of many social issues being discussed at the 20th International Aids Conference in Australia More

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

New Orleans-based Water Seed joins Shawna Renee inside the "Soul Lounge" where they introduce listeners to their latest album, a wonderful fusion of jazz, soul and rhythm & blues. The group also explains how the heart of New Orleans influences each of them as musicians and songwriters.