EXCLUSIVE: Suburbicon co-star Gary Basaraba has been cast in a key role of Frank “Fitz” Fitzsimmons, the union leader of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters who was Jimmy Hoffa’s gopher before being chosen to lead the union after Hoffa was convicted of fraud, conspiracy and jury tampering and ended up in prison. It was long thought that Hoffa, while incarcerated, led the union through Fitz.

Hoffa got out of prison early as a result of a deal being cut and he had to resign the union presidency and also withdraw from union politics (as arranged by President Nixon’s special counsel Charles Colson). Hoffa, however, defied the agreement. He was apparently furious that he had been pushed out in favor of Fitz, who was considered to be more easily controlled.

jimmy hoffa
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Jimmy Hoffa After being elected as the new president of the Teamsters Union in Miami Beach, Fla
REX/Shutterstock

Although he was told repeatedly by the mob to stay away from union politics, Hoffa (who had brought the heat of the government onto the union) refused. Tensions continued to rise. The final straw was when Fitz’s son (also involved in union politics) was almost killed when his car prematurely blew up in the parking lot of the Detroit bar Nemo’s as he and his father were walking toward it. That set in motion the meetings between families and the “disappearance” of Hoffa only 20 days after that event.

The Irishman, based on the questionable account of Frank Sheeran, is already before the cameras in New York. Sheeran’s story was that Hoffa was picked up from the Red Fox restaurant, taken to a house and murdered there and then the body was moved. The account was told to Charles Brandt who wrote the book I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran & Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa. Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro are behind bringing this version of Hoffa’s disappearance to the big screen. But the case is far from solved or even “closed” as is touted in the title of the book.

Steve Zaillian adapted the screenplay from the book. Producers are expected to be Fabrica’s Gaston Pavlovich, Jane Rosenthal, Scorsese, Randall Emmett and Emma Tillinger Koskoff. George Furla is expected as exec producer. The Netflix project is expected to get an Oscar-qualifying theatrical release.

Basaraba also guest-starred as Herb Rennet on the multiple Emmy Award-wining series Mad Men and had a great run as the star of Mixed Blessings. He is repped by Kazarian/Measures/Ruskin & Associates and manager Abe Hoch of A Management Co.