Don't Look Up Director Adam McKay Is Producing J6, A Movie About The January 6th Insurrection

When Trump supporters assaulted the US Capitol building on January 6 following Trump's election loss, it was widely considered to be the most egregious domestic attack on the foundation of our democratic republic since the Civil War. The fresh stain on America's history will be center-stage in the feature film "J6," handled by "The Comey Rule" director Billy Ray. Ray finds a formidable teammate in Adam McKay, who is currently enjoying praise and pushback for his own grim feature "Don't Look Up." McKay produces alongside "Comey Rule" exec producer Shane Salerno, as well as Todd Schulman, Josh McLaughlin, and Cullen Hoback. Deadline reports that Ray's screenplay will be making the rounds among studios and streaming services soon, and the search for financing is underway.

According to Deadline, the "J6" project was at first conceived as a limited series for Showtime like his two-part political drama series based on former FBI director James Comey's book, "A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership." Watching Cullen Hoback's QAnon conspiracy theory HBO documentary series "Q: Into the Storm" and condensing 300 pages of January 6 material into a 90-minute feature script, the writer-producer aimed to shift focus and keep things focused on the citizenry on the ground. "It's about protesters who became rioters and cops who became defenders of democracy," Ray said. "Someone else can tell the story of the chaos at the White House on that day. I wanted to stay in the trenches."

During the script's development, Ray reached out to Hoback, who was also present at the Capitol on January 6 and filmed parts of the assault. It was Hoback who suggested bringing Ray's script to McKay and Schulman at McKay's production banner Hyperobject Industries; both had executive produced "Q: Into the Storm." While McKay was prepping for "Don't Look Up" to drop on Netflix, he dug Ray's script and moxie enough to back the film as producer. Says McKay:

Billy has written a screenplay that is not only harrowing and terrifying but is sure to become the definitive cinematic document on that gut wrenching day."

A Dark Day

This won't be Billy Ray's first foray into fact-rooted films. His directorial debut in 2003 highlights journalist Stephen Glass' fall from grace in "Shattered Glass," starring Hayden Christensen. It would be four years before he sat in the director's chair again, this time for spy thriller "Bleach" in 2007, which stars Chris Cooper as shady FBI mole Robert Hanssen. Ray rounds out the decade with two series based on true events: an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Last Tycoon" about early Hollywood executive Monroe Stahr (an avatar for MGM head Irving Thalberg), and "The Comey Rule." But the director also penned "Captain Phillips," which Paul Greengrass would direct in 2013, and co-wrote "Richard Jewell" for the Clint Eastwood film in 2019. As a bonus, Ray is currently attached to write the highly anticipated Martin Scorsese-helmed series "The Devil in the White City," based on the bestselling book about H.H. Holmes' string of murders around and amid the 1893 World's Fair. The series stars frequent Scorsese collaborator Leonardo DiCaprio (also the star of "Don't Look Up") and Keanu Reeves.

McKay's recent work has shifted away from the sort of comedy that embodied "Step Brothers" and "The Other Guys," opting instead for the gravitas of "Vice" and "The Big Short." It's led to a rift in the director's professional relationship with fellow "SNL" alum Will Ferrell, which McKay chalks up to different creative needs. It appears that this year, those needs will be met by financing a hard look at what led to one of the darkest American moments of 2021.