Chappaquiddick movie heads towards production

Last December, John wrote about the plan to make a movie about the Chappaquiddick scandal. It was at Chappaquiddick where Ted Kennedy, who was drunk, drove a young campaign worker off a bridge to her death, failed to take reasonable steps that might have saved her, and tried to cover up his culpability.

The notion of Hollywood going through with such a project struck me as implausible. It’s easy enough to make such a film without revealing the true degree of Kennedy’s evil behavior, and John’s post suggested that this is how the filmmakers would likely proceed. But how do you make the film without casting Kennedy is a bad light over an incident that most Americans have either forgotten or never knew anything about?

Nonetheless, the project is moving along. “Principal photography” is set to begin right after Labor Day. The excellent Bruce Dern has been cast as Joe Kennedy.

I’m not familiar with other key cast members, but readers might be. Kate Mara, who apparently is descended from NFL royalty, will play the victim, Mary Jo Kopechne. Jason Clarke, an Aussie, will portray Ted Kennedy. Ed Helms, who was a “correspondent” on the Daily Show, will play Joe Gargan. He’s the Kennedy cousin whom Teddy tried to persuade to take the blame and who, unlike Teddy, dove into the water hoping to save Kopechne.

It seems inevitable that this movie, however much it spins things, will deal a huge and well-deserved blow to the reputation of Ted Kennedy.