On 9.28.12 Deadline‘s Mike Fleming reported that Fox Searchlight was “courting” Natalie Portman to play Jackie Kennedy in a film about the former First Lady’s ordeal in the immediate aftermath of JFK’s assassination. The project, Jackie, began life as a 2010 script by Noah Oppenheim, which I read and discussed on 4.15.10. Two and a half years later Fox Searchlight is temporarily out but Portman has finally committed to star in the pic under director Pablo Lorrain (No, The Club) with funding from The Wild Bunch, Variety is reporting.
So Portman is now locked into playing the most celebrated First Lady of the 20th Century along with with Supreme Court Justice Ruder Bader Ginsberg. Depending on the breaks, both performances will probably emerge as Oscar-worthy or certainly Oscar-baity.
Jackie was originally going to be directed by Darren Aronofsky with his then-wife Rachel Weisz as Jackie, but that went south when they broke up. Aronofsky will now produce the Portman version with his Protozoa Pictures partner Scott Franklin along with Chile’s Juan de Dios Larrain. Jackie will roll at the end of this year and probably be released by late ’16. Fox Searchlight will probably get back in the game as a distributor and Portman will be campaigned as a Best Actress contender — all pretty much set in stone.
Here’s part of what I wrote about the script on 4.15.10:
“Jackie follows the former Mrs. Kennedy’s experience from the day of JFK’s assassination in Dallas on 11.22.63 to his burial in Arlington Cemetery three days hence. I’ve read enough about those four dark days to understand that Oppenheim’s script is basically a tasteful re-capturing of what happened, and that’s all. It’s an elegant, almost under-written thing — straight, clean, dignified. The dialogue seems genuine — trustable — in that it’s not hard to believe that Jackie or Bobby Kennedy or Larry O’Brien or Theodore H. White or Jack Valenti might have said these very lines in actuality.
“The portrait that emerges isn’t what anyone would call judgmental or intrusive, or even exploratory. Jackie Kennedy is depicted as pretty much the same, reserved, quietly classy woman of legend, determined to honor her husband’s memory by making decisions about aspects of his state funeral in her own way, according to what she feels he would have wanted, or what would be appropriately dignified.
“I don’t mean to sound like a smart-ass, but it’s more or less in the same wheelhouse as Roger Donaldson‘s Thirteen Days, the drama about the Cuban Missile Crisis. I had a feeling that while writing this Oppenheim was mindful of the screenplay style of Aaron Sorkin, and how the latter has almost authored a ‘how to’ manual about writing emotionally reserved but affecting stories about people who live and work in the White House. The difference is that this time they’re well-known figures and the dialogue is based on historical accounts.
“Jackie is fits the template of a ‘let’s re-tell history again’ type of thing — familiar history re-lived and re-told with a veneer of class.”