It’s time for Oscars® contenders to battle. The number one contender this season is Clint Eastwood, who was honored for his work with two Oscars® in the category of Best Director, for “Million Dollar Baby” and “Unforgiven.” Clint pulled together an incredible team for the new movie “J. Edgar,” due out on November 9th in limited release and on the 11th for its full release.
“J. Edgar” explores his personal and public life from Edgar’s perspective, revealing a man who could distort the truth as easily as he upheld it, based on his own idea of justice.
The team is made up of screenwriter and Oscar® winner Dustin Lance Black (“Milk”). Academy Award® nominee Leonardo DiCaprio (“Inception,” “The Aviator”) as Edgar. Academy Award® nominee Naomi Watts (“21 Grams”) and Oscar® winner Judi Dench (“Shakespeare in Love”) help make this film a worthy contender.
However, with a great team supporting his efforts, Eastwood remains humble concerning the film. Eastwood says, “What made the story so interesting and, I hope, carries over to the movie, is that you get to know Hoover well enough that you understand him, his love for his mother, his need to protect the country, his relationship with Tolson…all the things that make up a life. He was more than the Director of the FBI, he was a complex guy. I hope we can draw people into his world so that, for a couple of hours, they see history through his eyes.”
The points in history explored stretch across Edgar’s lifetime and required a range of clothing highlighting the unique styles of the 20s, 30s and 60s. DiCaprio had to undergo hours of old-age prosthetic make-up.
“To take somebody from his mid-twenties to his seventies is an interesting challenge,” remarks make-up artist Sian Grigg. “Leo was never going to look exactly like Hoover because he has a totally different face, but he has a great face to work with. I used mouth appliances to help change the shape of his face, applied a prosthetic neck appliance to give him a double chin, and inserted a nose augmenter to deform his nose a little bit, all to get him closer to looking like Hoover. His hair stylist, Kathy Blondell, dyed his hair brown and added gray hairpieces at various stages; she even plucked out some of the hair in his widow’s peak to give him a squarer hairline.”
The team worked hard to make sure the audience focused on the story, not the actors. “This is a story about relationships,” Eastwood says, “intimate interactions between Hoover and everyone around him, from those closest to him—Clyde Tolson, Helen Gandy, his mother—all the way to Robert Kennedy and other well known political figures, even presidents. If it had just been a biopic, I don’t think I would have wanted to do it. I like relationship pictures, I like exploring why people do or did certain things in their lives.”
“This was one of the most challenging characters I’d ever seen on the page,” DiCaprio says of Black’s script, which spanned Hoover’s entire professional life. “Communism was almost like a terrorist movement in Hoover’s eyes, and he battled it and other perceived enemies throughout his career.”
This film is poised for several Oscar nominations and will be one of this year’s best pictures. After all, it’s about a man that changed the way we enforce the law.
Young Edgar, “Imagine if every citizen in the country was uniquely identifiable with their own card and number, say, the pattern on their fingers. Imagine how quickly they could be found when they committed a crime.”