Michael Shannon, Emilia Clarke to shoot Václav Marhoul’s ‘McCarthy’ in Prague

Czech director Václav Marhoul, who earned widespread acclaim for his WWII epic The Painted Bird, has culled together an all-star cast for his latest project, a biopic of infamous United States Senator Joseph McCarthy that is slated to begin filming in Prague next year.

McCarthy will star Michael Shannon as the controversial Wisconsin Senator, who became the face of a communist witch hunt and show trials in the United States during the 1950s. Shannon has been twice nominated for an Academy Award, for his performances in Revolutionary Road and Nocturnal Animals.

Emilia Clarke, who rose to fame as the Dragon Queen Daenerys Targaryen on HBO’s Game of Thrones and played leading roles in Star Wars and Terminator films, will star as McCarthy’s wife Jane Kerr, who was also involved in politics.

Dane DeHaan (Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets) will play Roy Cohn, McCarthy’s personal lawyer who went on to represent Donald Trump and Rupert Murdoch in the 1970s. Scoot McNairy (Argo, Gone Girl) will also co-star in an unspecified role.

McCarthy is scheduled to go into production at locations in both the United States and Czech Republic in autumn 2022.

Marhoul will direct from a script by Tom O’Connor (The Hitman’s Bodyguard). O’Connor and Zach Studin serve as producers on the project, with Rick McCallum in an executive producer role.

In the Czech Republic, McCarthy would presumably shoot at McCallum’s Prague Studios in Letňany. Prague locations could also fill in for period locales behind the Iron Curtain or elsewhere.

“The saga of Joe McCarthy is timeless and the drama behind his rise to power, sobering. It is a powerful reminder to us all that truth and facts are the lifeblood of a free and open society,” Studin said in a press release.

“Tom’s exceptional screenplay, Václav’s uncompromising vision and this remarkable ensemble gives the film the necessary foundation to properly explore this chilling and critical chapter of American history.”

HanWay Films will handle international sales and distribution of McCarthy, which will be presented at the American Film Market next month. The studio’s Gabrielle Stewart noted McCarthy’s relevance to modern times, and the Czech director’s personal interest in this American story.

“There are many countries around the world dealing with their own McCarthys right now and it is no surprise that a director who grew up behind the iron curtain should wish to lift the veil on McCarthy, the ultimate architect of populism,” Stewart stated.

“True stories are stranger than fiction, and Tom O’Connor’s screenplay is brilliantly researched, both shocking and entertaining, yet treats its villainous characters with true human complexity. Shannon is perfectly suited to inhabit the role of McCarthy and in Jean Kerr, our story’s very own Lady Macbeth, there’s a delicious role for Emilia Clarke.”

Cinematographer Vladimír Smutný and production designer Ján Vlasák, who both previously worked with director Marhoul on The Painted Bird, are also attached to work on McCarthy.

Prague post-production studio UPP will handle McCarthy’s visual effects.


Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at expats.cz and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at MaArtial.com.

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