Bully for Them, by Tyler Smith
It was recently announced that Paramount is set to make Roosevelt, a new film about President Theodore Roosevelt, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring (unsurprisingly) Leonardo DiCaprio. While it is not yet known if the film will span Roosevelt’s whole life, or perhaps just one section of it, there will certainly be plenty to draw from. Roosevelt became president at the tender age of 42. He fought against monopolies and in favor of wildlife preservation. All that and an assassination attempt could make for a pretty exciting film.
The film will certainly solidify DiCaprio’s emerging status as a potential character actor. While he still plays leading roles, there is a certainly an argument to be made that these parts have become increasingly showy, with Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street being a particular standout. And with his big mustache, animated gesticulations, and enthusiastic cadence, Teddy Roosevelt is essentially a character part, regardless of whether he’s the lead or not. Were DiCaprio to have accepted this part ten years ago, I’d be worried that he would ground the character too much, making him far too dour. But now I’m actually excited to see his interpretation of the energetic president.
And the film itself comes at a very interesting time, as well. Roosevelt was a Republican, but one who was unafraid to use the federal government to do things that individual states were either unwilling or unable to do. Among other things, he busted up trusts, as monolithic companies choked small businesses. Many Republicans today would look at Roosevelt’s actions and be aghast. Surely, these actions didn’t amount to a small central government; at least, not the way it is currently defined by the Right. Nonetheless, Roosevelt is a beloved and fascinating historical figure, and it will be interesting to see the political reactions to a big budget retelling of his life. I’m looking forward to it.