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Clint Eastwood Wants Joaquin Phoenix to Play J. Edgar Hoover’s Lover

Clint Eastwood's Hoover is quickly heating up at Warner Bros., where Vulture hears that Joaquin Phoenix is said to be the director's top choice to play J. Edgar Hoover's reputed paramour and protégé, Clyde Tolson. (Exactly the kind of praiseworthy part we said Phoenix needed to up his standing in Hollywood's star market.) For those unfamiliar with Tolson and Hoover, they really were the original “Ambiguously Gay Duo”: As the associate director of the FBI from 1947 to 1972, Tolson was in daily close contact with Hoover at the office, but even more interesting, the pair also dined, socialized in night clubs, and even vacationed together.

Sources familiar with the situation say that that while it’s true that the Eastwood project has not yet even finalized a deal with Leonardo DiCaprio to star as Hoover, Phoenix is nonetheless expected to receive the offer to play Tolson as soon as DiCaprio’s deal closes.

With a script by Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, Hoover explores the two men’s complicated relationship; neither man ever admitted to being gay, and Hoover was known for hunting down and intimidating those who dared questioned his sexual preference while he was alive. But Hoover’s actions in death seem to suggest they were more than simply pals in life: When Hoover died, Tolson was not only the beneficiary of Hoover’s life-insurance policy, he also inherited Hoover's estate and moved into his house. At Hoover’s funeral, he accepted the U.S. flag draped over Hoover's coffin, and today, Tolson's grave is a few yards from Hoover's in the Congressional Cemetery.

Insiders tell us that Eastwood’s casting agent, Fiona Ware (who cast Hereafter), is already scheduled to fly into Burbank from London in early October to begin the casting process. One has to wonder if her imminent arrival might be the reason for Casey Affleck’s sudden and out-of-the-blue decision to “come clean” about the fictional nature of the Phoenix documentary I’m Still Here — fear that portraying him as a drug-addled crazy with a tenuous grip on reality might jeopardize Phoenix’s chances at such a fantastic and potentially Oscar-worthy role.

Photo: Splash News