Joaquin Phoenix Not In 'Hoover,' Says Director Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood is hopefully going to shoot Hoover soon, with Leonardo DiCaprio playing J. Edgar Hoover, the first director of the FBI, who held the post for forty years through a wide spectrum of political changes. (And Hoover was instrumental in swaying some of those political changes, if you believe many of the stories about him.)

There was also a rumor that Joaquin Phoenix might play Clyde Tolson, associate director of the FBI and reputedly Mr. Hoover's lover. But that's not going to happen, says Clint Eastwood.

Reuters talked to the director, who said of the rumor about Joaquin Phoenix, ""No. I don't know where that came from...didn't he become a rapper?"

Mr. Eastwood also confirmed that Leonardo DiCaprio is in talks to play J. Edgar Hoover, with the actor currently (still) in talks with the studio to make a deal.

And of the film in general, which was written by Dustin Lance Black, the director says,

[J. Edgar Hoover] was a very complex person. The homosexual aspect is just one of many. I would say that's the least of his problems. But he was also very clever, whether rightfully or wrongfully, he was very clever about keeping himself in a certain position in life, so it is an interesting study... He is a fascinating character, and I think I am the right person to do it , not because I knew him or anything, but I did grow up with him...He was an iconic figure.

I half expect a small furor to take place over the fact that Clint Eastwood would characterize J. Edgar Hoover's sexuality as a problem, but I can see what he's getting at. Mr. Hoover's treatment of homosexuals suggested that, if he was in fact gay, he might have looked at it as a problem — there's a complex approach to sexuality in his background, if nothing else. (And with his screenwriter's sexuality being quite public, I very much doubt that Eastwood had any offense in mind.)

Dustin Lance Black's script sounds as if it might be attempting a certain verisimilitude, given that it is told from Mr. Hoover's perspective, but with that taken into consideration I'm looking forward to seeing more about how Clint Eastwood might use his youthful impressions of J. Edgar Hoover as a powerful American icon. Those two narrative directions would seem to be at odds, which could make this an unusual film.