As Clint Eastwood’s biopic of FBI-pioneer J Edgar Hoover nears cinemas, the top rank and file of the current bureau are growing increasingly concerned that the director intends to portray their beloved father as a closet homosexual.
J Edgar, which stars Judi Dench, Naomi Watts and Leonardo Di Caprio in the leading role, tells the tale of the man who spent 37 years in charge of the agency, ruffling many feathers with his right-wing leanings and poor-regard for individual freedoms.
But the lavish film will also touch upon rumours about Hoover’s close relationship with his aide Clyde Tolson, which have been circulating for years and are often explored by biographers. Outside the office, the pair, neither of whom married, were close lifelong friends, liked to holiday together and according to some reports, enjoyed cross-dressing.
Armie Hammer – who plays Tolson – has already revealed that he and Di Caprio did share a kiss as part of filming, but whether it makes it to the final cut remains to be seen. Historians are divided on the veracity of the claims, but those sympathetic to Hoover have raised concerns about how Eastwood is planning to paint their relationship.
“We provided information so that their story could be accurate,” FBI assistant-director Mike Kortan told USA Today. “What they did with it, as with any production, has been entirely in their hands.”
When asked about the FBI’s official position on the matter, he explained: “Vague rumours and fabrications have cropped up from time to time but there is no evidence in the historical record on this issue.”
William Branon, chairman of the J Edgar Hoover Foundation, is even thought to have written a letter to Eastwood warning that the “rumoured kiss scene” would be damaging. “It would be a grave injustice and monumental distortion to proceed with such a depiction, based on a completely unfounded and spurious assertion.”
Eastwood has responded by explaining that his film would give no “credence to cross-dressing allegations” and would not suggest that they were involved in an “open homosexual relationship”. Yet refused to rule out the possibility of a “behind closed doors” one.
The trailer itself does have some rather suggestive material in it and an interesting side-note, the film’s screenwriter won an Oscar for penning gay rights movie Milk.