From the first glimpse at J. Edgar, Clint Eastwood’s star-studded biopic of the controversial FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover, it’s clear that Leonardo DiCaprio thinks his performance in The Aviator was child’s play. That 2004 movie focused on a few chapters of the life of dynamic entrepreneur Howard Hughes, before eccentricities turned him into a recluse. J. Edgar is much more ambitious, with clips in the trailer capturing Hoover’s childhood, his role in the establishment of the FBI in the 1930s, and his consolidation of power that lasted into the Nixon administration. With the help of make-up, DiCaprio ages from his 30s in to his 70s. It’s certainly an epic undertaking for any actor. Take a look.
“It’s time this generation learned the difference between villain and hero,” intones DiCaprio’s Hoover, in what is surely an accent folks will be discussing. Hoover is a polarizing figure in the history books, and the film’s success will rely on whether Eastwood & Co. can remind audiences of Hoover’s idealism and patriotism, before getting entangled in the moral compromises represented by comments like, “Sometimes you need to bend the rules a little in order to keep your country safe.”
As for Hoover’s sexuality, Eastwood has said his film would leave that question “up for the audience to decide.” But the trailer seems to hint that his relationship with assistant Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer) will be depicted as more than just professional. When he tells Tolson “You understand, I need you,” it seems like more than just business, and their subsequent argument feels like a lovers’ quarrel.
Was it jarring to see DiCaprio as old Hoover, and does his accent give you pause? Does the high degree-of-difficulty of playing Hoover over the span of a lifetime immediately put DiCaprio in the mix for Best Actor?