Leonardo DiCaprio to Star in Woodrow Wilson Biopic

Leonardo Dicaprio Woodrow Wilson
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

A. Scott Berg's 'Wilson' published last week

Warner Bros. has picked up feature rights to A. Scott Berg’s “Wilson” biography and set it up with Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way banner as a potential starring vehicle for the “Great Gatsby” actor.

Producers on the project are DiCaprio, his producing partner Jennifer Davisson Killoran and Berg. No director is attached yet as producers plan to seek a writer first.

“Wilson” was published last week by Putnam Adult.

Wilson had been president of Princeton University between 1902 and 1910 before serving two years as the governor of New Jersey. He became president as a Democrat following the dramatic election of 1912, defeating the incumbent President William Howard Taft and past President Theodore Roosevelt, who ran as a third-party candidate.

Wilson pushed through a progressive agenda in his first term, narrowly won re-election in 1916 over Charles Hughes with the slogan “He kept us out of war.” Amid Germany’s increasing belligerence, he then oversaw the U.S. joining the Allies in World War I in April, 1917.

At the end of the war, Wilson pushed for a peace treaty that included the U.S. joining the League of Nations but the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate refused to ratify the treaty.

With a year left in his second term, he suffered a stroke and his wife Edith essentially served as the chief executive during the remainder of his tenure. Wilson’s first wife had died in 1914 one year into his term and he had married Edith Galt at the White House in 1915.

Lynn Harris is overseeing “Wilson” for the studio.

DiCaprio has starred as two other notable U.S. figures in biopics — FBI chief  J. Edgar Hoover in the 2011’s “J. Edgar” and aviator Howard Hughes in 2004’s “The Aviator.”

Berg won a Pulitzer Prize for “Lindbergh,” his 1998 biography of aviator Charles Lindbergh. Berg served on Princeton University’s Board of Trustees from 1999 to 2003 and began researching “Wilson” in 2000.

An adaptation of Berg’s biography “Max Perkins: Editor of Genius,” which centers on the real-life relationship between Thomas Wolfe and Maxwell Perkins, has been in development with the Michael Grandage Co. with Michael Fassbender and Colin Firth attached to star.

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  1. I am very disturbed that there is no mention of the fact that Pres. Woodrow Wilson was a racist segregationist Democrat who betrayed the many African Americans who voted for him. Sure, today’s Democrats are far more for minorities than Republicans but I can only hope the movie doesn’t ignore the fact that the Democratic Party has a HISTORY of racism. It is a party that transitioned from racial intolerance to being the most racially inclusive party that exists in America. Kudos for that.

  2. ITTTY IT says:

    Interesting idea —unfortunately, given that this is a CAP-stone
    Hollywood production —you will get NO revelatory examination.

    Stick to your own research and written histories.

  3. Joseph Taylor says:

    I wonder how much they will gloss over Wilson’s racism, his adoration of the British parliamentary system and his criticism of the U.S. constitutional system and his censorship of the news during World War I.

  4. harry georgatos says:

    This is a desperate cry for Oscar glory. Another boring biopic after the boring LINCOLN, the sluggish THE AVIATOR, the deadly, lifeless J EDGAR and audience will subjected to another tedious history lesson. We want popular, genre entertainment instead of self-important actors and directors who want to preach to mere mortals in how to be better human-beings while these film-people luxuriate in a $100million dollar lifestyle. What’s happened to INCEPTION 2? That’s what’s going to fill cinemas instead of lifeless political bio-pics that play to empty cinemas!!!

    • ART VANDELAY says:

      I FOR ONE AM GLAD LEO IS INTERESTED IN FILMING SOMETHING ON WILSON. I DONT FIND BIO PICS BORING OR TEDIOUS AT ALL. AS AN AMERICAN, I TAKE INTEREST IN THE RICH HISTORY OUR COUNTRY,ESPECIALLY ITS PRESEIDENTS. NOT ALL OF THE MOVIE AUDIENCE CAN SIT TO WATCH GIANT ROBOTS FIGHT EACH OTHER WITH SOME INEPT STUDENT SCREAMING AT THEIR FEET EITHER.

  5. occultology says:

    Because of the world situation in general at the time that this film is released, drawing parallels between WWI and today, Leonardo DiCaprio will finally win his Academy Award, and America will get all misty-eyed.

  6. Living the Geek Life says:

    I think it might be more interesting to see a film about his wife, Edith.

  7. lisa runnels says:

    this will be interesting—–my family is related to president hayes——films about presidents and history are always good—————

  8. Conan The Librarian says:

    Lets screw up the Bio-pic with Jay Z, and make it all G-thug music. Bryan Cranston will play General Zod and Spider Man gets Mary Jane Watson!

  9. Anne McNeff says:

    Leonardo DiCaprio is a pretty boy, nothing else, Gatsby failed. all smoke and mirrors. but they keep on casting him, I doubt if he can “capture” Wilson….he failed on Hoover……he is just a name with a pretty face

    • GKN says:

      Gatsby failed? At $348M worldwide? (http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=greatgatsby2012.htm) You set the bar quite high. DiCaprio’s presence, though a good actor, never compels me to see a film in itself. The fact that he’s one of bare handful who makes intelligent films though sometimes does. I’m fed up to my teeth with, heist films, super heroes, scifi, dystopian (including INCEPTION, which bored me) that I wouldn’t pay another nickel at the cinema otherwise. I’m far more interested in learning about the real world… I do hope they consult James Loewen’s chapter on Wilson though in, “Lies My Teacher Told Me”. Definitely the saint our schoolbooks portray!

      • Blakey says:

        Yes I’ll agree that Gatsby failed, however basically all critics are in agreement that you cannot blame Leonardo Dicaprio for that, he was one of the only universally praised things about that movie by critics and most general people.

  10. coolio says:

    It would be cool if they include this, but I doubt it:

    I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated Governments in the civilized world no longer a Government by free opinion, no longer a Government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a Government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men. -Woodrow Wilson

    • Rebecca says:

      They should, but won’t.

      I imagine this film will be a fun and entertaining story about Wilson, America’s entrance into WWI and how Wilson set a precedent for America to involve itself with world affairs.

      I don’t imagine, however, it’ll be a character study on the man. It certainly won’t mention Wilson’s many egregious civil rights and segregation policies. This will be a film centered around nostalgia. But it’ll sure look pretty.

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