Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio is never short of projects in development, and he certainly has a fondness for stories rooted in history.

A new biography of President Woodrow Wilson was just published this month, and the screen rights have landed at DiCaprio’s company Appian Way. The actor plans to produce the adaptation of A. Scott Berg‘s book, and star as the 28th President. The film will likely be called Wilson, like the book, and it’s easy to wonder if the development might move along just slowly enough for the story of the lauded progressive President to hit screens not too far away from the 2016 US Presidential Election.

THR reports on the rights pickup, noting that the book paints a “larger than life” portrait of the Democrat Wilson, who won the Presidency in 1912 after being Governor of New Jersey. Wilson’s administration passed the Federal Reserve Act, Federal Trade Commission Act, the Clayton Antitrust Act, the Federal Farm Loan Act and an income tax. Wilson supported and signed the Keating–Owen Act, which regulated child labor and interstate commerce. (That act was declared unconstitutional in 1918.)

He also supported women’s suffrage, though likely for political ends rather than out of a deep-rooted belief in equality. And he wasn’t all progressive in the modern sense; Wilson talked up race equality in society but advocated racial segregation in federal jobs. Don’t expect to hear much about that in the movie.

Wilson oversaw the entry of the US into WWI, and the re-implementation of the draft. He advocated for the pre-UN League of Nations, and suffered a stroke while promoting the League across the US. Resistance to unity with the League, and the control the coalition would have over US actions, was largely responsible for a Republican victory in the 1920 Presidential Election.

Here’s a description of Berg’s book:

One hundred years after his inauguration, Woodrow Wilson still stands as one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century, and one of the most enigmatic. And now, after more than a decade of research and writing, Pulitzer Prize-winning author A. Scott Berg has completed Wilson–the most personal and penetrating biography ever written about the 28th President.

In addition to the hundreds of thousands of documents in the Wilson Archives, Berg was the first biographer to gain access to two recently-discovered caches of papers belonging to those close to Wilson. From this material, Berg was able to add countless details–even several unknown events–that fill in missing pieces of Wilson’s character and cast new light on his entire life.

From the scholar-President who ushered the country through its first great world war to the man of intense passion and turbulence , from the idealist determined to make the world “safe for democracy” to the stroke-crippled leader whose incapacity and the subterfuges around it were among the century’s greatest secrets, the result is an intimate portrait written with a particularly contemporary point of view – a book at once magisterial and deeply emotional about the whole of Wilson’s life, accomplishments, and failings. This is not just Wilson the icon – but Wilson the man.

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