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Rob Reiner brings 'LBJ' to Heartland Film Festival

You’d be hard-pressed to find a director/activist more associated with left-leaning causes than Rob Reiner. But his new biopic “LBJ,” which he’ll introduce Oct. 12 at the Heartland Film Festival, was finished well before the possibility of a viable Trump candidacy.

“I made the film a year ago,” Reiner said, “but once Trump became president, it was completely different seeing it through the prism of knowing who’s in the Oval Office. You look at (Lyndon B.) Johnson, this brilliant legislator and dedicated public servant, and how committed he was to getting things done and the contrast is so stark. The film took on a different patina because of that.”

Reiner also will appear at showings of “The Princess Bride” and “Stand By Me” on Oct. 13, and stick around for a question-and-answer session.

Reiner’s appearance with “LBJ” will mark his second visit to the Heartland. In 2010, the director of “A Few Good Men," “When Harry Met Sally” and "This is Spinal Tap" premiered his teen romance “Flipped,” celebrating the occasion by taking a few spins around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with former driver Sarah Fisher.

“I had new respect for what these drivers do,” he laughed. “Taking us to the speed she did, and going right up to the wall — I was holding on for dear life.”

Reiner's new film comes as Johnson is enjoying something of a cultural revival, having received the biopic treatment in HBO’s adaptation of “All the Way,” starring Bryan Cranston, and being portrayed by Liev Schrieber in “The Butler” and Tom Wilkinson in “Selma.”

But Reiner’s film, which screened at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival and New Orleans Film Festival, and is receiving is theatrical release Nov. 3, aims to set itself apart with two differences.

The first: Focusing on the period directly after John F. Kennedy's assassination, in which a surprisingly insecure and hesitant Johnson establishes his own legacy by championing his predecessor’s loftiest goals.

“People have certain ideas that he was this tough, arm-twisting guy, which he was," Reiner said. "But he had this other side to him: He was very insecure, very nervous about making decisions and going forward.”

The second: The slam-dunk casting of Woody Harrelson in the lead role. Fitted with Hollywood prosthetic makeup and an authentic Texas drawl, Harrelson’s a natural, says Reiner, especially when delivering Johnson oft-gallows humor.

“LBJ was a funny guy in certain ways,” Reiner said. “I knew Woody could bring not only the humor but his own humanity to the part.” 

The festival runs Oct. 12-22. For venues and schedules, visit heartlandfilm.org/festival.

 

Original article can be found HERE.

Sean Ashworth