Dustin Lance Black is a screenwriter, producer and director, having won the 2009 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Milk, the biopic of the late gay rights activist Harvey Milk starring Sean Penn. Additionally, Black wrote the screenplay for J. Edgar, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Leonardo DiCaprio which earned him a Golden Globe nomination. Black earned his chops writing on HBO’s Big Love quickly climbing the ranks from staff writer on the series to executive story editor to co-producer. Black’s newest film Virginia, which he wrote and directed, is loosely based on his own childhood experiences growing up in the South and is now playing in theatres.
Virginia stars Jennifer Connelly (Requiem For A Dream, A Beautiful Mind) in the title role as a beautiful yet unhinged single mother who struggles to raise her son Emmett (Harrison Gilbertson) while dreaming of escaping her small Southern boardwalk town. Her longtime affair with the very married, Mormon Sheriff Richard Tipton, played by Ed Harris (A Beautiful Mind, Pollock), is thrown into question when he decides to run for public office. Things are further complicated when Emmett begins a romantic relationship with Tipton’s daughter, played by Emma Roberts (Nancy Drew, Valentine’s Day). Virginia and the town – populated by Amy Madigan, Toby Jones, Yeardley Smith – are full of secrets and everyone knows Virginia can only keep things together for so long. Virginia is a funny, touching drama that looks at the American Dream and what it takes to keep it together.
I recently had a chance to sit down and chat with Dustin Lance Black about Virginia. The Director spoke about Schizophrenia, his southern Mormon upbringing, the American Dream, working with Jennifer Connelly, the exhaustive effort of researching the biopics he wrote, and his upcoming projects.
Though he has thrice been nominated for an Academy Award, Leonardo DiCaprio has never won an Oscar. Based on the first trailer for J. Edgar, released about three weeks ago, DiCaprio is going hog-wild on his latest role, playing FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, and from the looks of it, he can practically taste the awards-season glory. DiCaprio is certainly working with a creative team familiar with awards, as J. Edgar is directed by Clint Eastwood and written by Dustin Lance Black, who penned Milk. Two new poster designs released by Warner Bros both focus on DiCaprio's fierce Hoover visage, complete with old age makeup, and both get across the classy pedigree and subject matter of this biopic.
Of all the classy pictures scheduled for the upcoming prestige movie season, J. Edgar is one of the classiest and most prestigious. It's got Clint Eastwood directing from a screenplay by Dustin Lance Black, who won an Oscar in 2008 for his Milk script, and it's got Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role of founding FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, a controversial Washington figure if ever there was one.
The first trailer for J. Edgar has arrived, with DiCaprio looking to really sink his teeth into the role, which follows Hoover from his earliest days attempting to impose law on the likes of John Dillinger all the way to his twilight years. There is plenty to be intrigued by in this trailer, but I suspect a lot of people are going to talk mostly about that old age makeup.
The phrase, "Behind every great man there's an even greater woman," usually implies the solidarity of a healthy and supportive romantic relationship. In the case of founding FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, the greater woman behind him was not a love interest, but his secretary Helen Gandy, who loyally served as his right hand for 54 years, even torching the controversial power-magnet's incriminating personal files after his death. Clint Eastwood's new biographical film J. Edgar, which chronicles the early years of Hoover's tenure, would be incomplete without an appropriately forceful Helen Gandy, who is played by Oscar Nominee Naomi Watts.
Last week, the first official images from J. Edgar showed Leonardo DiCaprio as the title character, along with Armie Hammer as Clyde Toulson, with whom Hoover had a relationship that went beyond the strictly professional. Now, another new image reveals Naomi Watts as Gandy, with DiCaprio present as a supremely agitated-looking Hoover.
The last time Leonardo DiCaprio played a prominent, controversial 20th Century historical figure, the world was gifted with my beloved The Aviator, in which Martin Scorsese depicted, with plenty of dramatic license, the early years of Howard Hughes.
That sets a high bar for J. Edgar, the Clint Eastwood-directed biopic chronicling the early career of J. Edgar Hoover, the powerful and enduring bureaucrat who served as the first director of the FBI. Way back in February, set photos of DiCaprio smoking a cigarette in his Hooverian vest and hair combo made their way online, but now an official image gives our best look at the actor, complete with some unnerving shark eyes.
Clint Eastwood’s latest directorial effort Hoover looks to be as potentially controversial as Gran Torino and even Mystic River. If rumors hold any weight, Eastwood is interested in exploring the personal life of J. Edgar Hoover, who was widely believed to be a homosexual cross-dresser behind closed doors. If Eastwood plans on traveling that avenue, we may all need to pray Hoover himself doesn’t somehow return in supernatural fashion to silence any of the films believers. After all, the man was known to destroy the lives and reputations of any who questioned his sexuality.
According to Variety, Dustin Lance Black - an Oscar-winner for his Milk screenplay - has been set to pen the screenplay for 20th Century Fox's film about infamous 19-year-old outlaw Colton Harris-Moore, a.k.a. the Barefoot Bandit (pictured), while David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) is in final talks to direct. Talk about a colorful duo! (That was bad, I'm sorry.)
According to Deadline.com, Leonardo DiCarprio is set to play FBI co-founder J. Edgar Hoover in Clint Eastwood's as-yet-untitled biopic, which was scripted by Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. Brian Grazer and Imagine Entertainment have been shepherding the project since its inception; it began life at Universal but has ended up at Warner Bros., which has a friendly working relationship with Eastwood.
Two things are really surprising about this: 1) How is it that Martin Scorsese is not directing it? 2) How the hell does Clint Eastwood do it? The man is 80 years old - I groan when I have to tie my damn shoes... Godspeed, though.