Woody Harrelson unrecognisable in first trailer for Rob Reiner's LBJ

Ben Bussey
·UK Movies Writer

Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill isn’t the only remarkable actor-to-historical figure transformation we will see in 2017.

Woody Harrelson is taking the title role in ‘LBJ,’ Rob Reiner’s biopic of the 36th President of the United States of America, and as we can see from the trailer above, it’s a striking change of look for the actor, who underwent an extensive make-up job for the role.

Director Reiner – who, as the trailer points out, has visited the White House before with 1995’s ‘The American President’ – tells us the story of how, having failed to secure the Democrat nomination in the 1960 Presidential election, wound up serving as Vice President under John F Kennedy (portrayed here by Jeffrey Donovan).

Woody Harrelson in 'LBJ' (credit: Castle Rock)
Woody Harrelson in ‘LBJ’ (credit: Castle Rock)

Of course, in one of the most infamous moments of the 20th century, Kennedy was shot dead in 1963, forcing Johnson to assume the Presidency. As the trailer emphasises, ‘LBJ’ will from that point focus on how Johnson set about “making President Kennedy’s vision a reality,” passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

‘LBJ’ is not the only film of recent times to deal with the aftermath of the JFK assassination. 2016’s ‘Jackie’ retold the troubled time from the perspective of the President’s widow Jacqueline Kennedy, portrayed by Natalie Portman; John Carroll Lynch co-starred as Johnson.

Other actors to have portrayed LBJ in recent years include Liev Schrieber in ‘The Butler,’ and Tom Wilkinson in ‘Selma.’

Credit: Castle Rock
Credit: Castle Rock

Expressing admiration for his subject, Rob Reiner tells EW, “Lyndon Johnson was complex. Almost Shakespearean. His strength and effectiveness as a leader was matched by a deep insecurity and a need to be loved. Had it not been for Vietnam, he would have gone down as one of America’s greatest presidents.”

‘LBJ’ opens in the US this November; no UK release date has been announced at present.

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