Power Players

Could Oswald have been stopped? Untold stories around JFK assassination 50 years later

Power Players

Top Line

Half a century after President John F. Kennedy was shot, the new movie "Parkland" relives history from the perspective of those who were most intimately connected to the president’s assassination in the chaotic hours and days that followed that fateful motorcade ride through downtown Dallas.

"Parkland" writer and director Peter Landesman told “Top Line” that the film puts the story’s most prominent characters – the president and the first lady – in the periphery of the storyline to focus instead on the less-known and real-life “Shakespearean dramas” that were unfolding all around.

“For 50 years we've seen this story through the narrative of the murder mystery,” Landesman said. “And we never really thought about those to whom it really happened, who survived the weekend.”

Though the film avoids dealing with the many conspiracy theories that surround the Kennedy assassination, it does raise the question of whether Lee Harvey Oswald could have been stopped. FBI agent Jim Hosty, who had been tracking Oswald prior to the assassination, is one of the film’s main characters.

“Jim Hosty was watching Oswald because he was this sort of strange, knuckleheaded, sort of sociopath who … was going to do something like this at some point in order to bolster himself,” Landesman said. “Could he have stopped Oswald? No, no one could have stopped Oswald that day, except for maybe his wife.”

At certain points during the filming of the movie, Landesman said, the experience of reenacting history became so real to the actors involved that it was as if “it was actually happening in front of us.”

Landesman recalled that Paul Giamatti, who plays the role of Abraham Zapruder in the movie, was deeply affected in the moments prior to filming the scene where Zapruder shot what would become the only film to capture the assassination.

“He was walking around, it was a strange gloomy day, and he didn't know he was on a live mic,” Landesman said. “And he was walking around kind of having a little bit of a nervous breakdown, like, ‘I can't believe I am doing this, I can't do this, where am I?’ He’d never been at Dealey Plaza before. He was standing where Zapruder stood. It was not like reenacting history; it was like reliving history for him.”

For more of the interview with Landesman, including what he says the experience of filming the operating room scene during which Kennedy dies was like, check out this episode of “Top Line."

ABC’s Michael Conte, Freda Kahen-Kashi, Hank Disselkamp, and Bob Bramson contributed to this episode.

View Comments (1931)

Recommended for You

  • Thousands in Germany protest against Europe-U.S. trade deal

    By Noah Barkin BERLIN (Reuters) - Thousands of people marched in Berlin, Munich and other German cities on Saturday in protest against a planned free trade deal between Europe and the United States that they fear will erode food, labor and environmental standards. Opposition to the Transatlantic…

    Reuters50 mins ago
  • Diplomacy out, blunt talk in as Obama gets tough on GOP

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Diplomacy is out, blunt talk is in as President Barack Obama and his White House team single out Republican lawmakers by name for criticism over their words and actions on Iran, Cabinet nominations and climate change.

    Associated Press
  • Babysitter Calls 911 to Say He’s Watching Abducted Child

    The toddler had allegedly been kidnapped by the boy’s paternal grandmother and the girlfriend of the boy’s father, police in Washington state told ABC News. The girlfriend asked her brother John Truong to watch the 2-year old, and Truong was the one to call police once he realized who he had in his…

    ABC News
  • View

    Deadly suicide attack in Afghanistan (11 photos)

    The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in Afghanistan Saturday that killed 33 people and wounded more than 100 others, President Ashraf Ghani said, in what appears to be the first major attack by the jihadists in the country. Ghani's government has repeatedly raised…

    Yahoo News
  • Musical chairs: Who would Shelton want in his 'Voice' seat?

    ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Musical chairs is a common game on "The Voice." Pharrell is sitting in a seat originally owned by CeeLo Green and once occupied by Usher, while Shakira and Gwen Stefani have filled in when Christina Aguilera took a hiatus from the show.

    Associated Press15 mins ago
  • Missouri drops charges against officer indicted in shooting of man

    By Kevin Murphy KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Reuters) - A Missouri prosecutor on Friday dismissed charges against a Kansas City police officer indicted in February by a grand jury for the non-fatal shooting of a 37-year-old man last summer. The dismissal comes amid heightened attention to police shootings…

    Reuters
  • Fish found in suspected tsunami debris boat quarantined

    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The wreckage of a fishing boat that appears to be debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami was carrying some unexpected passengers — fish from Japanese waters — when it was spotted off the Oregon coast.

    Associated Press
  • Maple syrup emerges as potential hero in antibiotic resistance crisis

    When it's been concentrated, an extract of maple syrup weakens harmful bacteria, reducing their resistance to antibiotics, according to a new study at McGill University in Canada. Making microbes more susceptible to being overcome by antibiotics could cut down on the amount that's necessary to…

    AFP Relax News
  • Mugabe 'shocked, disgusted' by South African anti-immigrant violence

    By MacDonald Dzirutwe HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Saturday expressed shock and disgust at attacks on immigrants in neighboring South Africa and said his government was working to bring back home affected Zimbabwean citizens. At least four people have been killed in a…

    Reuters
  • US military option 'old habit that dies hard': Iran FM

    Iran's foreign minister dismissed Saturday the threat of a US military strike against Tehran's nuclear sites, describing such warnings as an "old habit that dies hard" given ongoing diplomacy. Mohammad Javad Zarif, who leads the Iranian side in talks with six world powers that aim to end the…

    AFP
  • Shooting that wounded baby no longer considered road rage

    SEATTLE (AP) — A 1-year-old girl was shot in the head and critically wounded as she sat in a car with her parents in suburban Seattle.

    Associated Press
  • Limbo for millions of immigrants as Obama action stalls: What next?

    The ability of a US President to use government discretion to achieve major real-world outcomes became on Friday the heart of a wide-ranging legal discussion at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which is weighing whether to lift an injunction against an Obama executive action…

    Christian Science Monitor
  • Americans Are Changing Their Minds About Pot Legalization

    A new Pew Research Center poll has found that 53 percent of Americans believe marijuana use should be legalized. Twenty-one percent of Americans surveyed by Pew have changed their minds about marijuana and no longer oppose legalization. Meanwhile, a new poll from Bloomberg Politics shows that 58…

    Takepart.com
  • NHL's Jarret Stoll arrested for cocaine, MDMA possession

    (Reuters) - Los Angeles Kings player Jarret Stoll was arrested on Friday at a Las Vegas resort pool for carrying cocaine and the party drug MDMA, also known as "Molly," officials said. The Canadian-born Stoll was taken into custody around 4:30 p.m. local time at the MGM Grand Hotel's Wet Republic…

    Reuters
  • Play

    Missing Woman's Husband Admits to Police Wife Is Dead

    Act 4: Michael Wilkie tells a detective that Shelby Wilkie killed herself and that he cremated her.

    ABC News Videos
  • School districts, parents at odds over breakfast in class

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — The number of breakfasts served in the nation's schools has doubled in the last two decades, a surge driven largely by a change in how districts deliver the food.

    Associated Press
  • Kiev lists Russian military units allegedly in Ukraine

    Ukraine's army chief of staff on Saturday listed for the first time some of the specific Russian military units alleged to be fighting against Kiev alongside pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine. "Regular Russian army troops are still in Ukraine" despite a ceasefire agreement signed in…

    AFP