“Nobody was asking for it but we thought it would be a great story,” said Chappaquiddick‘s screenwriter Taylor Allen who, along with the film’s co-scribe Andrew Logan, stopped by the Deadline Studio at SXSW in Austin, TX.
Directed by John Curran and starring Jason Clarke as Ted Kennedy and Kate Mara as Mary Jo Kopechne, the pic details the true story of the night Kennedy drove his car off a bridge, which resulted in the death of Kopechne and pretty much destroyed his chance at the White House. Kennedy left the scene of the accident before reporting it to officials hours later, which he admitted in his testimony. He was essentially given a slap on the wrist with a two-month suspended jail sentence.
For the writers, sticking to the facts was imperative when dealing with a well-known case surrounding one of the most famous last names in history.
“The Chappaquiddick incident is something that’s marked by a lot of conspiracy theories and a lot of falsehoods and so for us, part of the journey was making sure that we stuck to the facts and stayed as close to the truth as possible,” said Allen.
Also as important for the writers was to honor Kopechne in the process of making the film.
“We’ve been in touch with the Kopechne family. [Mary Jo’s] parents died before we started this project but her cousin is somebody that we’ve been in contact with and we were recently able to show them the movie. Honestly, it was the greatest honor of this entire process, was hearing back from them after they had a family screening in Pennsylvania and hearing that they thought that we honored their relative’s memory.”
Entertainment Studios acquired Chappaquiddick out of TIFF and will release it April 6.
Check out the full interview above.