LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - jason Clarke will play Ted Kennedy in the independent drama Chappaquiddick opposite Bruce Dern as political patriarch Joseph Kennedy.
The film follows the events before and after the 1969 accident on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts after Ted Kennedy hosted a party and then accidentally drove his car off a one-lane bridge into a tidal channel. His passenger Mary Jo Kopechne drowned.
Kennedy was able to swim to safety but did not report the crash to police for another nine hours. He pled guilty seven days later to a charge of leaving the scene of the crash after causing injury and received a suspended sentence.
The ensuing scandal prevented Kennedy from launching a campaign for President until 1980. Family patriarch Joseph Kennedy, who had suffered a stroke in 1961, had called in advisers including Robert MacNamara, Ted Sorenson and Sargent Shriver for damage control following the accident.
Kate Mara is playing Kopechne and Ed Helms is playing Kennedy's cousin Joe Gargan. Filming is expected to start in September.
The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.