• 'Chappaquiddick' film highlights one of Kennedy family's darkest chapters

    By: Ted Daniel

    Updated:

    Hollywood takes on one of the Kennedy family's darkest chapters.

    The new film "Chappaquiddick" revisits the 1969 Martha's Vineyard story that left a young woman dead, and then-U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy facing criminal charges. 

    Boston 25 News reporter Ted Daniel watched the film before its release and spoke with the director and lead actor.

    With a wig, fake teeth and carefully crafted accent Australian-born actor Jason Clarke plays an entitled, callous and unsympathetic character. 

    It is Hollywood's version of Senator Ted Kennedy during a ten-day period in July of 1969.

    "It is a no holds barred look at what he did over those ten days," said Clarke.

    Katie Mara plays Mary Jo Kopechne, the young, idealistic campaign strategist killed when Kennedy drove his car off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island. 

    Kennedy waited ten hours to report the crash and with help from advisors, tried to cover it up. 

    "I believe you can't get away from the fact that he didn't report it for ten hours and that fact is there was a possibility she was still alive for a certain amount of time after the car went in," said Clarke.

    Veteran filmmaker John Curran says many of the scene setters were shot on the Vineyard.

    So why did they decide to revisit this decades-old story?

    "For me it was the script," said Curran. "Jason was attached that was a big thing for me and it felt like a story that never really been explored properly."

    Boston University political historian and author Tom Whalen believes it's long overdue.

    "Ted Kennedy, I always thought, got a pass from Hollywood and the general media from the Kennedy family name and its power and resonance through the decades but what he did, he is responsible for the death of a young woman," said Whalen. 

    Chappaquiddick premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September and opened the Martha's Vineyard Film Festival Thursday night. It is scheduled for wide release on April 6.

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