‘His strength and effectiveness as a leader was matched by a deep insecurity and a need to be loved,’ director Rob Reiner says of the political biopic

By Joey Nolfi
July 28, 2017 02:20 PM
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Woody Harrelson is reaching across political divides — and into the realm of heavy prosthetics — to become the 36th President of the United States in a new trailer for the upcoming political biopic LBJ debuted exclusively on EW.

The Rob Reiner-directed film charts Johnson’s early years and subsequent rise to power as one of the country’s most unexpected leaders, whose term began mere hours after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, under whom he served as vice president between 1961 and 1963. Tracing the titular figure’s legacy via his preservation of his forerunner’s, LBJ examines how Johnson — thrust into the most powerful position in the world — navigated his early days in office, later signing Kennedy’s Civil Rights Act into law in 1964 — a move similarly chronicled, to varying degrees, in recent films like Selma and Jackie.

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Here, Jeffrey Donovan plays Johnson’s ill-fated predecessor, while Jennifer Jason Leigh portrays his wife, Lady Bird Johnson. C. Thomas Howell (White House aide Walter Jenkins), Bill Pullman (Texas senator Ralph Yarborough), Richard Jenkins (Georgia senator Richard Russell), and Michael Stahl-David (Robert F. Kennedy) have supporting roles in the freshman feature script from The Good Fight scribe Joey Hartstone.

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“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,” Reiner tells EW in a statement. “Had it not been for Vietnam, he would have gone down as one of America’s greatest presidents.”

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LBJ premiered last year at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival, where it earned decent reviews from movie critics ahead of being acquired for domestic distribution by Electric Entertainment.

The latest of Harrelson’s seven major features to be released in 2017, LBJ hits theaters on Nov. 3 — an awards-friendly date. Watch EW’s exclusive trailer for the film above.

This article originally appeared on Ew.com