- Barry Levinson is going to direct ‘Assassination,’ a new film about the murder of President John F. Kennedy.
- Writer David Mamet was initially set to direct the picture himself before stepping aside.
- Starring Al Pacino, Viggo Mortensen, and others, the movie will focus on the theory that JFK was taken out by members of the Mafia.
The murder of President John F. Kennedy, along with one of the major conspiracy theories about who was behind it, is coming back to the big screen for the first time in over 30 years.
David Mamet, who wrote the screenplay with Nicholas Celozzi, was slated to direct the film, but has now stepped away from that role and turned it over to Levinson. The latter is known for films like ‘Good Morning, Vietnam,’ ‘Bugsy,’ and ‘Rain Man,’ as well as more recent efforts like the Hulu miniseries ‘Dopesick,’ on which he executive produced and directed two episodes.
Who is in the cast?
Levinson will oversee a cast that includes Al Pacino, John Travolta, Viggo Mortensen, Shia LaBeouf, and Courtney Love. Pacino will play Tony Accardo, a powerful figure in the Mafia’s Chicago organization, known as the Chicago Outfit.
And yes, in case you didn’t get the hint from that casting, ‘Assassination’ will focus on the theory that the Mafia, specifically Chicago boss Sam Giancana, was behind the murder of JFK in Dallas on November 22, 1963.
According to speculation, the Mafia wanted revenge after supposedly helping to get Kennedy elected, only to see his administration go after organized crime with increased fervor.
Standing in the shadow of ‘JFK’
The film, which was nominated for Best Picture, starred Kevin Costner as New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison, who attempted to prove that alleged lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald did not shoot the president and was instead the fall guy for a plot – a coup d’état — that reached into the upper echelons of the CIA and the U.S. military.
Stone’s movie downplayed the involvement of the Mafia, suggesting that organized crime was at best a supporting player in the conspiracy. The controversial film launched a debate and outcry that actually led to the release of nearly all classified files related to Kennedy’s murder by 2017.
Since the release of ‘JFK,’ only a few fleeting films, such as ‘Ruby’ (1992), Stone’s own ‘Nixon’ (1995), and Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’ (2019), have touched on the idea that others beside Oswald were behind the death of Kennedy.
As for ‘Assassination,’ this marks the third time that Levinson and Mamet have worked together, with Levinson directing 1997’s ‘Wag the Dog’ from Mamet’s script and executive producing the writer-director’s 2013 HBO movie ‘Phil Spector.’
Levinson has also directed Pacino in three earlier pictures, including ‘The Humbling,’ ‘You Don’t Know Jack,’ and ‘Paterno.’ There’s no word yet on when filming for ‘Assassination’ will begin, pending the resolution of the current SAG-AFTRA strike, and no release date or distributor has been set.