Two men joined by des­tiny

An in-depth drama­ti­sa­tion about the build-up to JFK’s as­sas­si­na­tion airs on Na­tional Ge­o­graphic tomorrow

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - MEDIA& MARKETING -

IT’S 1959. Two men face ma­jor turn­ing points in their lives: one is in Wash­ing­ton, DC, pre­par­ing to an­nounce his pres­i­den­tial can­di­dacy, the other is at the US Em­bassy in Moscow, re­nounc­ing his Amer­i­can ci­ti­zen­ship. Two seem­ingly un­re­lated oc­cur­rences, start­ing both on a cat­a­clysmic track that would al­ter the course of his­tory.

Na­tional Ge­o­graphic Chan­nel’s Killing Kennedy, pro­duced by Scott Free Pro­duc­tions and based on the best-sell­ing book by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, chron­i­cles the build-up to one of the US’s most shock­ing events: the as­sas­si­na­tion of Pres­i­dent John F Kennedy by Lee Har­vey Oswald.

Star­ring Rob Lowe ( John F Kennedy) and Will Roth­haar (Lee Har­vey Oswald), with Michelle Trachtenberg ( Ma­rina Oswald) and Gin­nifer Good­win ( Jac­que­line Kennedy), the film charts the highs and lows of two men and two re­la­tion­ships that would even­tu­ally in­ter­sect with two shock­ing deaths that stunned the na­tion.

The his­tor­i­cal de­tails of the event are well known to mil­lions. Now, Killing Kennedy will take au­di­ences deeper in­side the story than ever be­fore by ex­am­in­ing the events that led both men to Dal­las on that fate­ful day in Novem­ber 1963, and by of­fer­ing a rare and hu­man look at the peo­ple at the cen­tre of it all.

“JFK was so much more than I think peo­ple re­alise,” says Lowe.

“My goal was to play a hus­band, a fa­ther, a brother, a man with a big job who loved and was funny, and smart, and charm­ing, and flawed, and in­spired.”

Added Good­win: “The in­ti­macy and re­veal­ing na­ture of this film, and the cap­ti­vat­ing nar­ra­tive, re­ally in­spired me.”

Oswald re­mains one of Amer­i­can his­tory’s most in­fa­mous fig­ures, but one few know much about. Killing Kennedy will re­veal Oswald as more than just a twodi­men­sional vil­lain, but as a trou­bled man who wanted noth­ing more than for some­one to take no­tice of him – a wish he saw granted for less than 48 hours be­fore meet­ing his own spec­tac­u­lar and un­timely demise.

“The Oswald story is some­thing no one has re­ally told be­fore,” says Roth­haar. “I think there are a lot of things about Lee (Oswald) that peo­ple are go­ing to be sur­prised by, or even re­late to, in this movie.”

“Many peo­ple aren’t even aware Lee had a wife,” says Trachtenberg, who speaks al­most en­tirely in Rus­sian in the film. “The film’s il­lu­mi­na­tion of Ma­rina and their mar­riage helps re­veal Lee as more than just a mon­ster.”

Killing Kennedy pits Kennedy and Oswald as the po­lar op­po­sites they were, chart­ing their re­spec­tive paths to­wards their in­fa­mous mu­tual date with des­tiny.

While the aris­to­cratic Kennedy as­cends to the ul­ti­mate seat of power, Oswald seeks his own place in the world by look­ing to make a name for him­self as a for­mer US ma­rine de­fect­ing to Rus­sia.

His delu­sions of gran­deur are soon re­placed by the harsh and cold re­al­i­ties of fac­tory work in the re­mote and un­for­giv­ing Minsk win­ter, and he re­turns to the US with his new Rus­sian wife, Ma­rina.

Set­tling in Texas, the Oswalds start a fam­ily and Oswald finds a com­mu­nist cause much closer to home in the geopo­lit­i­cally charged hot­bed that is Cuba at the dawn of the 1960s.

Here’s what Roth­haar had to say about be­ing the as­sas­sin.

Ev­ery Amer­i­can, it seems, knows the name Lee Har­vey Oswald but very few know much about him as a man. What was it like to play a char­ac­ter like this?

From the very first con­ver­sa­tions I had with our di­rec­tor, Nel­son McCormick, we talked about por­tray­ing the hu­man side of some­one who has for all th­ese years been seen only as a two-di­men­sional vil­lain. We wanted to find where he is hu­man and let peo­ple see that. For all th­ese years, peo­ple have seen him as a mon­ster. To me, he is not a mon­ster. He is a man who did a mon­strous thing. And there’s a big dif­fer­ence.

Talk about some of the re­search you did for this role.

I did a ton of re­search. I read the book Ma­rina and Lee. The au­thor, Priscilla McMil­lan, spent 10 years with Ma­rina and also used to work for JFK.

For me, the re­search is al­most the most fun. I found ra­dio in­ter­views Lee did where there are th­ese three 10-minute-long seg­ments in which you hear him talk and talk, which re­ally helped me learn what he sounded like.

What did you learn about Oswald that sur­prised you?

I had no idea about his up­bring­ing. He grew up very ne­glected. His fa­ther died two months be­fore he was born, and his mother was very un­sta­ble. She put his older brothers in an or­phan­age when Lee was born and sent them to board­ing school. Then, when he was three, she dropped him in an or­phan­age and then took him to New York. It was as if he never be­longed any­where, and he never had any­one recog­nise him, or sit him down and ask him about his day. This makes per­fect sense in the story we are telling, be­cause he is mo­ti­vated by the fact that he wanted to be seen, he wanted to be recog­nised for some­thing. I am not go­ing to say you will feel com­pas­sion for him, but you might look at him and say, yeah, I’ve been there.

What was it like to shoot the as­sas­si­na­tion scene?

The scene was shot from my viewpoint, through the ri­fle scope. And the cam­era is on me fol­low­ing the car as it comes down the road. It was in­tense. We were shoot­ing in a build­ing that re­ally looked like the school book de­pos­i­tory (Oswald shot Kennedy from the sixth floor of this Dal­las build­ing). When I was lin­ing up the shot, and fi­nally bring the ri­fle around, it’s like, take a breath and you know that is the mo­ment. It was in­tense.

In telling this story us­ing a par­al­lel struc­ture, what kinds of com­par­isons were you able to draw be­tween th­ese two men?

One thing I found re­ally in­ter­est­ing is that al­most from the be­gin­ning, it is ob­vi­ous that Lee wants fame. And, at least in the early days, JFK re­ally didn’t. He grew to ac­cept it. But the first time we see him in the movie, he is about to an­nounce he is run­ning for pres­i­dent and he is talk­ing about how it was not sup­posed to be him tak­ing that stage, it was sup­posed to be his brother Joe.

Mean­while, the whole time, Lee is say­ing, “It’s al­ways been me.” That is what he truly be­lieves.

Did do­ing this movie change your mind about the as­sas­si­na­tion and all the re­lated con­spir­acy the­o­ries?

I was raised on this sub­ject when I was younger. Both my par­ents were big ad­vo­cates of JFK, so I knew about it at a very early age. There are a lot of con­spir­acy the­o­ries out there. I have my own opin­ion and I al­ways will. And this didn’t change that. But this is the story we are telling. It is the facts, and that is what is re­ally in­ter­est­ing about it.

Killing Kennedy airs tomorrow at 9.55pm on Na­tional Ge­o­graphic Chan­nel.

COM­PLEX: The movie re­veals dif­fer­ent di­men­sions of Oswald.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.