Woody Harrelson undergoes radical makeover to play the president in Rob Reiner’s biopic LBJ

Sep 22, 2015

By Jennifer Pearson
Originally appeared in The Daily Mail
Sept. 22, 2015

Woody Harrelson is stepping into what could be his most complex role yet - former US President Lyndon Baines Johnson. The 54-year-old actor was spotted on set of Rob Reiner's political biopic LBJ as the first day of production got underway in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Monday.

Woody, who is 5 ft 10, underwent a visible transformation complete with prosthetics, a toupée and platform shoes to play Johnson, who was 6 feet tall and 55 years old when he assumed the presidency in November of 1963 following the assassination of John F Kennedy in Dallas, Texas.

Johnson took the presidential oath on Air Force One to become the 36th US president and then pledged support for Kennedy's agenda, which included civil rights and education legislation.

He was elected Vice President of the US in 1960 and took office the next year after the Kennedy-Johnson ticket defeated the Nixon-Lodge ticket in one of the closest elections in American history.

As president, LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Acts of 1965, put in place a Medicare bill that established Social Security care for the elderly, increased the number of American troops in South Vietnam and established his 'War on Poverty.'

Johnson won reelection in 1964 but didn't run in 1968, paving the way for President Richard Nixon.

Despite his accomplishments, he left as one of the least popular presidents in American history.

After leaving office in 1969, Johnson returned to Texas and died four years later in 1973.

'As a man, Lyndon Johnson was obsessed with his place in history, consumed by a voracious appetite for life, and often cast between emotional extremes,' according to the Miller Center.

'He was a natural politician, and to many people who knew him, he seemed larger than life.

'As a President, Johnson revealed that he was even more complex and ambitious, unveiling a sweeping collection of legislative and social initiatives he called 'The Great Society.'

Playing Johnson will be a tough role for Harrelson to fill.

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