Fifty Shades of Grey director Sam Taylor-Johnson was originally eyed to helm Chappaquiddick, the film about Ted Kennedy’s infamous car crash, but eventually bowed out in favor of a new Netflix drama series Gypsy. Now, a few months after the news was made public, both the new director and its leading man have been announced.
According to a press release, Jason Clarke of (the annoyingly spelled) Terminator Genisys is in talks to play Kennedy, while John Curran, who directed Mia Wasikowska in the 2013 movie Tracks, has stepped in to helm the project.
Clarke started to build mainstream prominence with Zero Dark Thirty and consecutive 2013 films White House Down and The Great Gatsby. Since then he had been gaining notoriety for his performances in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Everest. Proving that Genisys was just a fluke for virtually everyone involved, he has a few notable roles coming down the pipeline, though Chappaquiddick is perhaps the most intriguing so far. Producer Mark Ciardi of Apex Entertainment said in a statement that the actor “has an unwavering passion” for the project.
The film’s title refers to Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts, where on July 18, 1969 Kennedy and his colleague Mary Jo Kopechne suffered a car crash that left the latter dead. Kennedy testified that he accidentally drove off a single-lane bridge into the water. He swam free, left the scene, and didn’t report the incident for nine hours. The “Chappaquiddick incident,” as it was called, was a national scandal and led to a two-month suspended jail sentence for Kennedy after he pled guilty to leaving the scene of a crash after causing injury.
Filming on Chappaquiddick is expected to start later this summer. Here’s the official plot synopsis:
The biographical drama takes place the eve of the moon landing when Senator Ted Kennedy becomes entangled in a tragic car accident that results in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. Over the course of the next seven days, the Senator struggles to decide between following his own moral compass or using his power and influence to protect the family legacy.