Eastwood, Brian Grazer, and and Ron Howard's Imagine Entertainment are teaming up for a Hoover biopic, which isn't yet set up at a studio, but will probably find home at Warner Bros. The script has been penned by Dustin Lance Black, who won the screenwriting Oscar last year for Milk. I can't say that Milk really broke new ground as far as the biopic style, but it was solid enough, and it allowed for some great performances from Sean Penn and Josh Brolin. We can hope for a similar case with J. Edgar Hoover.
As just about everyone knows, Hoover was instrumental in forming the FBI in 1935, and was its formidable director until his death in 1972. The FBI has certainly done its share of good and honest crime-fighting, but Hoover also liked using illegal methods, and often used the FBI as own personal task force. He harassed activists, dissenters, politicians, and even little old ladies at the beauty shop with his black-suited boys. (I heard a story once about idle salon gossip about Hoover's sexuality resulting in a crackdown. True? Probably.) He could also be incredibly capricious, and would punish agents for being too successful (Melvin Purvis of recent Public Enemies fame came under his hatred) or wearing the wrong ties or socks. He may also have been a deeply closeted homosexual and cross-dresser, and was rarely seen apart from Clyde Tolson, who took over the FBI after Hoover's death. He was complex to say the least.
There's no shortage of material for a Hoover biopic. If Black is involved, it may center entirely on Hoover's much debated relationship with Tolson, which is certainly a movie all on its own. Perhaps it'll be one big political paranoia piece with Hoover trying to hide his private life by interfering in the freedoms of others. There's plenty of ways to take his story.
Eastwood can lure any actor he likes, so I'm curious who he'll call on to play Hoover. Will Public Enemies' Billy Crudup reprise the younger Hoover? Could he get Gene Hackman out of retirement to play the older man? Will he draw on his collection of favorites and bring Matt Damon to the table? Anything is possible. But my biggest question is whether Eastwood can bring back a little of his flash, blood, and color to his directorial style. Hoover calls for a far less safe approach than Nelson Mandela and Invictus.