Michael Shannon to Star as Senator Joseph McCarthy in Political Drama

“McCarthy” will also star Emilia Clarke, Dane DeHaan and Scoot McNairy

Michael Shannon Joseph McCarthy
Lauren Weissler/Getty Images

Michael Shannon will play the fiery, controversial Republican U.S. senator Joseph McCarthy in a feature film about his life called “McCarthy.” The film will be presented to buyers at the upcoming American Film Market.

Václav Marhoul, the director of “The Painted Bird,” will direct Shannon in “McCarthy,” and the feature will also star Emilia Clarke, Dane DeHaan and Scoot McNairy.

The film will show the rise and fall of Joseph McCarthy and how he went from a lawyer and decorated former U.S. Marine to follow a path of demagoguery, showy trials and exploiting anti-Communist populism in what would come to be known as McCarthyism. Clarke will play Jean Kerr, McCarthy’s ambitious wife, DeHaan will play the young, ruthless lawyer Roy Cohn, and McNairy is portraying McCarthy’s trusted friend and colleague Ray Kiermas.

Tom O’Connor (“The Courier”) wrote the original screenplay. The film is produced by Zach Studin together with O’Connor. Rick McCallum will executive produce. “McCarthy” is slated to go into production in fall 2022 in Prague and the U.S.

HanWay Films has come on board to handle international sales and distribution and will begin sales at AFM. CAA Media Finance will oversee the U.S sale.

Marhoul will also reteam with his “Painted Bird” collaborators including cinematographer Vladimír Smutný production designer Ján Vlasák.

“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,” Studin said in a staetment.

“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,” HanWay Films MD Gabrielle Stewart said.

Michael Shannon recently starred on the Hulu series “Nine Perfect Strangers” and will next be seen in the action film “Bullet Train” alongside Brad Pitt as well as David O. Russell’s untitled next film.

Shannon is represented by CAA, Range Media Partners and Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein Kohner & Gellman. Clarke is represented by CAA, Range Media Partners, Emptage Hallett and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller & Gellman. DeHaan is represented by CAA, MGMT and Sloan, Offer, Weber & Dern. McNairy is represented by UTA and The Group Management. Marhoul is represented by CAA; O’Connor by Verve and 42; and Studin by Morris, Yorn, Barnes, Levine, Krintzman, Rubenstein, Kohner & Geller.