From his childhood in Texas to the White House, the life of Lyndon B. Johnson makes it to the big screen. The movie “LBJ” centers around a moment in American history that will never be forgotten, when Johnson was thrust into the Presidency after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Director Rob Reiner said when casting the film, the lead role needed to be a Native Texan. He turned to Woody Harrelson, who was born in Midland and raised in Houston. “They just have a certain flavor to them that I don't know how to describe what it is that makes someone a Texan, but it is a very specific thing and I am lucky that was the criteria, because it narrowed it right down, I got in the door, I feel so lucky,” Harrelson said. But portraying LBJ was no easy task. “I was a little too caught up in it, it's very hard, especially because my version of Texas is just slightly different from his, but it made me so self-conscious. I had to get over that, I never really did get over that, but when I watched it, it didn’t matter,” he said.
But he said something happened when he immersed himself in the role, “I found out as much as I could about him ya know and fascinating character, I still find him fascinating.” His long time perspective of the President jaded by the Vietnam War had changed. A sentiment shared by Reiner who said initially he didn't want to make a film about LBJ. “As a young person growing up and being of age during the Vietnam War, I had certain thoughts about LBJ which were he was enemy because he could’ve sent me to Vietnam to my death and I was against the Vietnam War.” But that all changed for Reiner when he read the script. “What I loved about it, is it took a very small sliver of time and through that sliver of time was able to explore the breath of his character and it's very complex man as he was,” he said.
Seeing another side of LBJ, is something his daughter hopes many others along with Reiner and Harrelson will see watching the film.
Harrelson saw another side of LBJ, something his daughter Luci Baines Johnson discussed with the actor. “He recognized that the whole story had not been told, and he was very pleased to have been part of sharing what he came to know.” She said she hopes it’s a side of her father many others will see with the release of the film,”With the opening of the tapes, my father had the opportunity to elevate agony and the ecstasy of his administration in his own words and I am very grateful people have come to see it in all of its diversity,” she said.
A nationwide release date hasn't been set, but Reiner said they hope to have it out by the end of the year, or next year.