EXCLUSIVE: James Marsden is joining the cast of Rob Reiner’s Iraq war drama Shock and Awe opposite Woody Harrelson. Written by Reiner’s LBJ screenwriter Joey Hartstone, which also starred Harrelson, the politically-charged project centers around a group of journalists who asked the tough questions about Saddam Hussein’s alleged WMD’s (weapons of mass destruction) which was the way the Bush administration sold the Iraq War to the American public and around the world in 2003.
The pic follows Knight-Ridder reporters Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel, who after the events of 9/11, meet with their bureau chief John Walcott to get to the bottom of who was responsible. They find their sources telling them the Bush Administration is trying to tie Saddam Hussein to the terror attacks, even though there is no evidence to support the claim. As the push for war in Iraq increases, they bring in legendary reporter Joe Galloway to give them the high-level sources to help counter the false narrative of Hussein, al-Qaeda and WMDs. They find themselves one of the only media sources running stories countering the prevailing narrative. In the end, Iraq is invaded and their reporting is proven true.
While more iconic papers follow the administration line, the smaller-market Knight-Ridder papers try to get beneath the surface and serve the smaller markets where the military bases are, with the reporters believing the military troops in their markets were going to be the most affected by the decision to go to war. It is those troops whose lives would be risked and lost on the battlefield.
The film, which Reiner has had in development for several years, is scheduled for production this year, with financing from Savvy Media Holdings and Acacia Filmed Entertainment. The producers are Reiner, Matthew George and Michele Reiner.
Marsden can next be seen in HBO’s hugely-anticipated Westworld, the big-budget adaptation of Michael Crichton’s 1973 film about a futuristic theme park populated by artificial beings. Also in the cast are Ed Harris, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Thandie Newton.
Marsden is repped by CAA and Authentic.