Clint Eastwood’s biopic about J.Edgar Hoover, featuring Leonardo DiCaprio as the former FBI head, focuses on Hoover’s controversial personality. The film follows his life as he made the Federal Bureau of Investigations into one of the country’s most powerful agencies and became one of the most powerful political figures of his time.
As the plot spans more than 50 years, eight presidencies, and three wars, Hoover is portrayed as a Macchiavelian figure who believes that the end justifies the means. He systematically collects information on U.S. citizens and politicians; no one is above suspicion. J. Edgar is quoted in the film saying, “Sometimes you need to bend the rules a little in order to keep your country safe.”
“He was a very important figure, the top federal cop, and he probably was the most powerful guy in the country,” Academy Award winning director Clint Eastwood says. The film alleges Hoover collected information on political figures like President John F. Kennedy, with wire taps. It shows him using the transcripts as political leverage. Motivated by his fear of communism, Hoover tries to convince Attorney General Robert Kennedy to step up political surveillance of Americans.
Leonardo DiCaprio, who likes to play controversial figures, offers a daring performance and just might receive an Oscar for it. “He probably could,” agrees Eastwood. “He is very good. He’s an excellent actor. I liked working with him.”
Eastwood depicts Hoover as ruthless, but also a patriotic visionary, whose forensics led to the arrest of the likes of John Dillinger, a notorious gangster of the 1930s.