The Front Runner follows the collapse of Gary Hart's 1988 presidential campaign, following news stories on his alleged extramarital affair. As you can imagine, it's not a fun subject for the real Hart to relive. That said, when director Jason Reitman first brought the finished cut to Hart so they could watch it together, Hart only had eyes for star Hugh Jackman and ears for his own voice. Here's how Reitman described Hart's reaction to the film:
The first thing Gary said was, "Hugh Jackman is such a good actor" and then he said, "Do I really talk like that?" His wife said, "Yes, darling. That's exactly how you speak."
If someone has to play you during one of the worst times of your life, you're doing well if it's Hugh Jackman. (Actually, the same goes for playing you during the best times of your life. Jackman is just a diamond.) Based on Jason Reitman's comments at a post-screening panel discussion, Hart sounded pleased with Jackman's performance.
Australian actor Hugh Jackman told the panel (via Yahoo) that he did a lot of research for the role, including meeting the now 81-year-old former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart and his family. Jackman wanted to get a feel for the real Hart -- and he also wanted to make his own intentions clear:
I wanted him to know and be able to look in my eyes and know that I took his life and his legacy very seriously, and this is a difficult situation and a difficult thing to bring up but we were doing it for hopefully a noble purpose, not just something to rehash over sensational sort of stories but to actually start a real conversation. I wanted him to know that.
Hugh Jackman said Gary Hart was most nervous about how his family would be portrayed on screen -- especially his wife, Lee Hart. But he loved actress Vera Farmiga's performance, as anyone would.
It has been 30 years since Gary Hart's scandal played out, changing the relationship between politicians and the press. As The Front Runner explores, before that point, the more common view was that politicians' personal lives were private and not fit for publication/broadcast by serious news outlets. But the Hart story helped open up and feed the continuing debate on how much the public has a right to know about the people running to represent them in office.
The Front Runner -- which co-stars J.K. Simmons and Alfred Molia -- has gotten mixed reviews so far, but high praise from our own Mike Reyes. The film opened in theaters on Election Day November 6. Check out what else is still to come this year in our 2018 movie guide. And look ahead to what's coming next year in our 2019 movie schedule.