J. Edgar may not be the most exciting thing to be cooking in pre-production, but it has racked up one hell of a cast. According to Deadline Hollywood Daily, the latest (and probably last) to join is Naomi Watts. She’ll be playing Hoover’s private secretary, Helen Gandy. This was the part Charlize Theron was attached to, but apparently rocked all of Hollywood by turning down. (That’s sarcasm.)
A mere secretary?! screams the feminist blogosphere. Not exactly. Gandy may have been a secretary, but she exerted considerable force over Hoover during his interminable tenure. He trusted her with many of his secrets. Immediately after his death, she was in his office destroying his Personal File where it’s believed all his deepest, darkest, and nastiest information was kept.
It’s a smallish part, but an important one. Watts is such a curious actress. I know she’s capable of really good work, but lately she’s just sort of been … there. I think the most exciting thing she’s done is Eastern Promises, everything else has felt rather flat. I have no doubt she’ll be perfectly capable in J. Edgar, but I can’t help but wonder if she now has a career of supporting roles ahead of her. No more star vehicles like Fair Game.
My joke about feminist blogs aside (hey, I read them avidly), I actually think this may be all about the women who overpowered J. Edgar Hoover, like Helen Gandy and Hoover’s darling mummy. I love that idea. If done right, it could be one hell of a historical deconstruction, particularly with the lurking specter of his rumored fondness for a nice pair of stockings.
Yeah, I’m looking forward to this. I’m dying to see what it will be. But now I just want it to be over and done so I can see the shaping of A Star Is Born. I still can’t wrap my head around that one. Sharp fedoras, government agencies, the Lindbergh baby … that’s Eastwood stuff. Broken musicians and show-stopping songs? Not so much.