EXCLUSIVE: Kate Mara and Ed Helms are joining Jason Clarke in the cast of the feature film Chappaquiddick, which will be directed by John Curran. Mara will star in the pivotal role of Mary Jo Kopechne, the 28-year-old, smart, vivacious teacher and campaign aide to Robert Kennedy who was the passenger in the car of Sen. Ted Kennedy (Clarke) when the car he was driving plunged into the water off a one-lane bridge. Kopechne became trapped in the overturned, submerged car while Kennedy escaped. He then failed to report the accident to police and instead that night reached out to two others — a cousin and friend — to help him.
That cousin was Joe Gargan, who will be portrayed in the movie by Helms. Helms’ role is key to history and to the story as Kennedy wrangled Gargan and another friend to go back to the scene to try to find Kopechne under the water. While Gargan was loyal to Ted, he also had a strong moral compass and pressed his cousin to do the right thing and call police (which was not done until the next morning).
Kopechne was known as one of of a group of women and tireless campaign workers — known as the boiler room girls — who helped Bobby Kennedy behind the scenes. The accident happened 47 years ago on July 18, 1969.
The project is being produced by Apex Entertainment’s Mark Ciardi and Campbell McInnes from a screenplay by Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan. That screenplay was on The Black List in 2015. Apex Entertainment is also financing the film. DMG’s Chris Cowles and Chris Fenton are executive producing along with Allen and Logan.
Mara just starred in Scott Free/Fox’s sci-fi thriller Morgan which was directed by Luke Scott (Ridley’s son). She previously co-starred in both Netflix’s critically acclaimed House Of Cards as well as this past year’s Best Picture nominee The Martian. Her role in Chappaquiddick follows another film where she portrayed a character based on a real person: she just completed the starring role in Leavy as Marine Cpl. Meghan Leavy. The film tells the story of Leavy and her combat dog Rex who convalesced together after they were both wounded in Iraq.
Helms (The Hangover) is filming the comedy The Clapper. He is also starring in Bastards for Alcon and Warner Bros. which releases into theaters in Jan 27. He also just starred in Lake Bell’s new movie What’s The Point?
Mara is repped by UTA and Mosaic. Helms is repped by UTA, Principato-Young Entertainment and Schreck Rose Dapello & Adams.