Allison Tolman (Fargo) J.C. MacKenzie (The Trial of the Chicago 7), Chris Bauer (True Blood), Hamish Linklater (Legion) and Chris Messina (Birds of Prey) are set for recurring roles in Starz’s Watergate drama Gaslit, starring Julia Roberts and Sean Penn.
Based on the first season of the Slate podcast Slow Burn, Gaslit is a modern take on Watergate that focuses on the untold stories and forgotten characters of the scandal – from Nixon’s bumbling, opportunistic subordinates to the deranged zealots aiding and abetting their crimes to the tragic whistleblowers who would eventually bring the whole rotten enterprise crashing down.
The series is created and executive produced by Robbie Pickering (Mr. Robot, Search Party). Matt Ross (Captain Fantastic) will direct and executive produce.
The story will center on Martha Mitchell (Roberts). A big personality with an even bigger mouth, Martha is a celebrity Arkansan socialite and wife to Nixon’s loyal Attorney General, John Mitchell (Penn). Despite her party affiliation, she’s the first person to publicly sound the alarm on Nixon’s involvement in Watergate, causing both the presidency and her personal life to unravel. As attorney general, Mitchell is Nixon’s most trusted adviser and best friend. Temperamental, foulmouthed and ruthless – yet hopelessly in love with his famously outspoken wife – he’ll be forced to choose between Martha and the president.
Tolman will play Winnie McLendon, the DC journalist who would ultimately become Martha Mitchell’s biographer. An intrepid young journalist trapped in the “pink ghetto” of society stories, Winnie first sees Martha Mitchell as just another puff piece in Ladies Home Journal but ends up embroiled in the heart of the Watergate scandal.
MacKenzie will portray Howard Hunt, a former CIA agent who once collaborated with G. Gordon Liddy in Nixon’s “Plumbers” unit and helps him execute the bungled Watergate break-in.
Bauer will play James McCord, a former CIA operative who serves as the head of the security team for John and Martha Mitchell. On orders from his boss, McCord becomes one of the Watergate burglars and forms an unlikely connection with Martha Mitchell, who recognizes him after he’s arrested.
Linklater will portray Jeb Magruder, a high-level bureaucrat behind Watergate and John Mitchell’s right-hand man. Jeb ultimately goes to jail for his involvement in the bungled burglary, but not before his testimony makes headlines.
Messina is Agent Angelo Lano, an FBI Agent tasked with the Watergate break-in who, with his partner Paul Magallanes, finds himself stymied at every turn by leaks in his own agency.
Along with Pickering, Matt Ross (Captain Fantastic, 28 Hotel Rooms) will direct and executive produce, and Sam Esmail (Homecoming, Mr. Robot), via his overall deal with UCP, and Chad Hamilton (Mr. Robot, Homecoming) serve as executive producers under their production banner Esmail Corp. Roberts will executive produce under her banner Red Om Films along with co-executive producers Lisa Gillan and Marisa Yeres Gill. Anonymous Content and Slate’s Gabriel Roth and Josh Levin will also executive produce. Leon Neyfakh, who created the podcast, will consult on the project. Gaslit is produced by UCP, a division of Universal Studio Group, for Starz.
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