Leonardo DiCaprio Woodrow Wilson

Warner Bros. is currently in negotiations to acquire the film rights for the recently released Woodrow Wilson biography, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer A. Scott Berg. Leonardo DiCaprio is helping produce the adaptation, and he is set to star as the 28th president who lead the country through World War I from 1913 to 1921.

Berg’s “intimate” biography of Woodrow Wilson came out this past week and has been met with generally positive reviews. This comes as no surprise; his 1998 biography of Charles Lindbergh won him the Pulitzer Prize for Biography, and the film rights were purchased by none other than Steven Spielberg, who had planned to direct a movie on the famed anti-Semitic aviator but never did.

Berg’s newest book supposedly offers up some juicy dramatic moments that could serve for solid cinematic narration regarding the years during and after WWI. According to The Hollywood Reporter:

“Wilson’s 1919 barnstorming tour of America to build support for the League of Nations that led to his stroke might be the most obvious. Other contenders include his romancing of Edith Galt and their 1915 White House wedding (Wilson’s first wife died in 1914, one year into his term. He’s the last president to marry in the White House), the 1912 campaign and the decision to enter the war in 1917.”

Speculations aside, I’m sure that like all Hollywood biopics, this one will attempt to encompass all the most pivotal moments of Wilson’s life, beginning with him as a precocious child gallivanting around his childhood home, displaying larger-than-life personality traits that notify the audience well in advance that this individual will rise to the top of American politics.

Now I don’t mean to sound like a pessimist. I think movies revolving around the globe’s most destructive, influential and arguably most fascinating war are long overdue. The decade between 1910 and 1920 brought about the most significant change in culture, politics, and economics, and I look forward to a film based on our President of the time.

But, onto Leo. Remember J. Edgar? The ubiquitous posters of a scowling and hollering Leonardo DiCaprio, trying so hard to embody the real-life FBI Director? That movie was met with “mixed reviews” but let’s be honest, most of them were negative and it’s safe to assume J. Edgar will remain largely forgotten in a cannon of biopics. And then there was his role as Howard Hughes in Scorsese’s Aviator, an arguably better film but still not a role that DiCaprio is best remembered for.

No, DiCaprio has always been at his best when he plays the American every-man. DiCaprio is and always has been an amazing naturalistic actor. With the exception of his turn in The Great Gatsby (and Jay Gatsby is decidedly the quintessential American every-man, is he not?) DiCaprio is splendid when he tackles roles as a tortured and struggling present-day man on a mission. The Departed and Revolutionary Road immediately come to mind, as does Inception. And let’s not forget his maniacal, calculating turn as Calvin Candie in Django Unchained. So why does the actor continue taking roles as real-life historical figures?

Perhaps he’s still trying to get it right. Perhaps he has a penchant for history and simply digs these movies. Whatever the case, I long for the day when DiCaprio decides to stick to what he’s best at. Maybe he can take some tips from Michael Shannon?


SOURCE: The Hollywood Reporter