Actor Michael Shannon has been cast as the infamous Senator Joseph McCarthy in a film from The Painted Bird director Václav Marhoul, according to Deadline. Joining Shannon in the ensemble are Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) as his wife Jean Kerr, Dane DeHaan (Lisey’s Story) as his lawyer Roy Cohn, and Scoot McNairy (Halt and Catch Fire) as his colleague Ray Kiermas. The film currently has the title McCarthy, and will be written by Tom O’Connor, who recently penned the script for The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.
The Senator’s name has become synonymous with his anti-communist charge during his time serving in Congress, which included a number of sensational trials. Producer Zach Studin shared his take on the importance on telling this story: “The saga of Joe McCarthy is timeless and the drama behind his rise to power, sobering. It is a powerful reminder to us all that truth and facts are the lifeblood of a free and open society. Tom’s exceptional screenplay, Václav’s uncompromising vision and this remarkable ensemble gives the film the necessary foundation to properly explore this chilling and critical chapter of American history.” McCarthy was a memorable villain in the 2005 film Good Night, and Good Luck.
McCarthy is slated to begin production next fall in Prague and the United States. Studin and O’Connor will produce, and Rick McCallum will executive produce. Marhoul will be working again with crew members from his Oscar-shortlisted The Painted Bird, including cinematographer Vladimír Smutný and production designer Ján Vlasák. UPP, whose credits include Blade Runner 2049 and Wonder Woman, will be in charge of production and VFX.
HanWay Films will be handling international sales and distribution, and its managing director Gabrielle Stewart praised the relevance of the film and its sharp casting choices: “There are many countries around the world dealing with their own McCarthys right now and it is no surprise that a director who grew up behind the iron curtain should wish to lift the veil on McCarthy, the ultimate architect of populism. True stories are stranger than fiction, and Tom O’Connor’s screenplay is brilliantly researched, both shocking and entertaining, yet treats its villainous characters with true human complexity. Shannon is perfectly suited to inhabit the role of McCarthy and in Jean Kerr, our story’s very own Lady Macbeth, there’s a delicious role for Emilia Clarke.”