Leo and Armie on the Hoover Love Story
BY Jeremy Kinser
November 11 2011 9:44 PM ET
Armie Hammer says it was the love story at the center of J.Edgar that drew him to the project, while Leonardo DiCaprio suggests that it was being emotionally repressed and an insatiable need for power that compromised his feelings for Clyde Tolson.
The true nature of the sometimes tumultuous relationship between J. Edgar Hoover, the powerful and notorious founder of the F.B.I. (played ferociously by DiCaprio) and his second-in-command Clyde Tolson (played by Hammer as sophisticated and full of yearning for Hoover) have been speculated about for decades. During a press conference for the just-released film, Hammer says he was initially confused by the complexity of the bond between the two men as depicted in Dustin Lance Black's well-researched screenplay.
"I thought in order for it to make sense for [Clyde] to be there and stick around and take that hot and cold abuse, it had to be a love story," Hammer says. "At first when I read it I didn’t understand the love story. I didn’t understand exactly why Clyde stuck around. I understood why Hoover wanted him around and why it was dangerous and titillating to have him around, but it didn’t make sense to me why Clyde stuck around." Hammer says he had discussions about the two men with his friends and with the film's casting director Fiona Weir. "The complexities of their relationship were made more and more clear to me. I started becoming more and more obsessed with it."
DiCaprio found Hoover, who he describes as "a crockpot of eccentricities," to be a fascinating character. "He was incredibly repressed emotionally," DiCaprio says. "His only outlet was his job. He felt he wasn’t allowed to have any personal relationships. No matter what his sexual orientation was, he was devoted to his job and power was paramount to him."
Contrary to some early reports on the filming, Black insists that director Clint Eastwood never attempted to "de-gay" the story. "He treated their story as if it was any other love story, with equal respect and dignity and heart," Black tells The Advocate. "If anything he made it more emotional and more true."
Read our interview with Black, who discusses the real Hoover, working with Eastwood on the film, and his thoughts on the right to privacy of public figures, here.
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