Australian actor Damon Herriman (best known here for his work on FX’s Justified) will be joining the cast of Clint Eastwood‘s hotly anticipated (by me, anyway) next project, the biopic of legendary FBI founder and director-for-life J. Edgar Hoover. Herriman will portray Bruno Hauptmann, the German immigrant who was found guilty of kidnapping the Charles Lindbergh baby and summarily executed. Concerns over the legitimacy of Hauptmann’s persecution (he claimed he was innocent right to the end) prompted Hoover to investigate the case further. [The Playlist]

Herriman joins Leonardo DiCaprio as the young Hoover in J. Edgar, along with The Social Network‘s Armie Hammer as Clyde Tolson, Hoover’s longtime assistant and (supposedly) closeted lover.  Charlize Theron is reportedly in talks to play Justice Department file clerk Helen Mandy, who became Hoover’s personal secretary, eventually working under him for over 50 years. Her involvement hinges on the other project Theron is circling,  Snow White And The Huntsman, which shoots early next year (as does J. Edgar). Theron is more likely to snag the meatier role of the evil queen and – in the fairy tale and Disney movie – main antagonist.

Eastwood’s latest, Hereafter, was coolly received by both critics and audiences, but Invictus and Changeling, both biopics of a sort, were underrated and nicely done. Eastwood’s finest hour as a director of bios is still his 1988 Bird, which starred a brilliant Forest Whitaker as the great jazzman, Charlie “Yardbird” Parker. Eastwood seems very comfortable chronicling the lives of real people. The controversial Hoover (portrayed by Bob Hoskins in Oliver Stone‘s Nixon and Billy Crudup in Michael Mann‘s Public Enemies), created the FBI by hyping up the significance of Depression-ere bankrobbers like John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson and held onto a massive amount of power for more than half a century, all while keeping his homosexuality a relatively open secret.

J. Edgar, written by Milk Oscar-winner Dustin Lance Black, ought to be a hell of a tale. There are no details yet concerning Eastwood’s focus, but a close examination of the man is long overdue.

Are you intrigued about the J. Edgar project? How do you think Eastwood will approach the material?

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