As Hollywood decided to revisit history Tuesday night at the “LBJ” premiere, held at the ArcLight Hollywood, current events made their way into the conversation on the carpet and on the panel discussion that followed the film.
During a Q&A panel after the screening, moderator Bill Maher asked star Woody Harrelson about his initial reluctance to portray president Lyndon B. Johnson in the film. When Harrelson cited his respect for Rob Reiner’s directorial abilities, Maher jokingly asked, “He didn’t pull any Harvey Weinstein stuff on you to get the part, did he? No open bathrobes or anything like that, right? Strictly merit?”
Jennifer Jason Leigh, who portrays Lady Bird Johnson in the film, had a more serious comment on the scandal. Leigh previously starred in “The Hateful Eight,” which was produced by Harvey Weinstein and written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, a long-time friend of the disgraced producer who is under fire for years of sexual assault and harassment allegations.
“I think it’s much bigger than Harvey Weinstein and it’s great that men and women are able to speak about this openly and without shame for the first time,” Leigh said on the red carpet. “Harvey Weinstein has created a kind of watershed for something that’s endemic not only in our culture but in our American society. It starts with the president on down and the more people speak out, the better to make change.”
Popular on Variety
Actor Bill Pullman also weighed in, “If you’re going to do the laundry, you want to hang it out all at the same time.”
He added, “I think there’s a great critical mass that has happened where people are willing to dig back in their past and announce what had happened to them. There’s a lot of denial and shame that exists in human beings and it’s painful to dig that up again, but I think we need everyone to come forward.”
“LBJ” tells the story of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s rise to the presidency after the assassination of his predecessor, John F. Kennedy, and Johnson’s passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964.
“When I was a kid, I hated LBJ. He was the guy who created the Vietnam War as far as I was concerned,” said Dean Devlin, CEO of Electric Entertainment, which distributed the film. “Learning about the other parts of him was so remarkable and I think had it not been for Vietnam, he might have gone down as one of our greatest presidents ever.”
“LBJ” will be released in theaters on Nov. 3.