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Bruce Dern will portray Joseph Kennedy in the independent drama “Chappaquiddick” opposite Jason Clarke as Ted Kennedy.

Apex Entertainment’s Mark Ciardi and Campbell McInnes are producing. John Curran is directing from a screenplay by Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan.

The film follows the events before and after the 1969 accident on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts after Ted Kennedy hosted a party and then accidentally drove his car off a one-lane bridge into a tidal channel. His passenger Mary Jo Kopechne drowned.

Kennedy was able to swim to safety but did not report the crash to police for another nine hours. He pled guilty seven days later to a charge of leaving the scene of the crash after causing injury and received a suspended sentence.

The ensuing scandal prevented Kennedy from launching a campaign for President until 1980. Family patriarch Joseph Kennedy, who had suffered a stroke in 1961, had called in advisers including Robert  MacNamara, Ted Sorenson and Sargent Shriver for damage control following the accident.

Apex Entertainment is also financing the film. DMG’s Chris Cowles and Chris Fenton are executive producing along with Allen and Logan.

Kate Mara is playing Kopechne and Ed Helms is playing Kennedy’s cousin Joe Gargan. Filming is expected to start in September.

Dern received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for 2013’s “Nebraska” and starred last year in Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight.” He is repped by Innovative Artists and Pure Arts.

The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.