Julia Roberts & Sean Penn are married & beyond toxic in the Starz ‘Gaslit’ trailer

The Nixon administration was really wild. I think people who were alive for it tend to forget that. While the Trump administration was bonkers, there was genuinely unsettling, criminal and scary sh-t going down with Nixon’s people too. It wasn’t all Waterbugging and ratf-cking. There was the Saturday Night Massacre in 1973, where Nixon went on a firing spree of all of the DOJ officials who were investigating him. There was all of the breaking & entering, and the theft of medical records of Nixon’s enemies. Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward got a lot of credit for being early on the story and being the first to pull at all of the strings. All the President’s Men was about them, not the peripheral figures within the Nixon administration.

Martha Mitchell’s role in the collapse of Richard Nixon has largely been untold. But she was important, and there are references to her sprinkled throughout the official record. Martha Mitchell was the wife of Nixon’s Attorney General John Mitchell. Martha liked to talk. Martha read her husband’s papers. Martha knew there was a lot of sh-t going on with CREEP before Bob Woodward had even put his pants on. And so that’s what Gaslit is about. It’s a Starz series about Martha Mitchell and how all of the president’s men dealt with her. Hint: they drugged her, delegitimized her and tried to destroy her. Julia Roberts plays Martha, and that’s Sean Penn as John Mitchell, under all of those prosthetics. Dan Stevens plays John Dean, Betty Gilpin plays Mo Dean and Shea Whigham plays G. Gordon Liddy.

I truly winced when Sean Penn slapped her, but I cheered a little when she slapped him back (and harder). Julia’s character reminds me so much of her role in Charlie Wilson’s War, where she played Joanne Herring in the 1980s. Julia is surprisingly good at this very specific 1970s-1980s style. Yeah… I actually think this looks like a really good showcase for Julia. Sean Penn looks awful with those prosthetics and once again, they should have just cast someone else. Someone who genuinely looks like John Mitchell. Now I have to look at photos of John Mitchell…f–k, you know who would have been good? Bruce Willis. Sh-t, JK Simmons would have killed this too. This is also the first time Julia and Sean have worked together? I wonder if they got along. I have no particular vibe about it, I’m just wondering. This starts April 24th.

Screencaps/photos courtesy of Starz/Gaslit.

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29 Responses to “Julia Roberts & Sean Penn are married & beyond toxic in the Starz ‘Gaslit’ trailer”

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  1. L84Tea says:

    I don’t know much about the Nixon era, but I’ll definitely tune in and watch this. I love a good drama about the 1970’s political scene. It sort of reminds me of the “Mrs. America” series on Hulu. Good stuff!

    • Ponchorella says:

      Rahael Maddow has a very good podcast called Bag Man that explains the Nixon corruption. I knew about watergate, but learned a lot from that podcast. Nixon was before my time.

      • Liz Version 700 says:

        Bag Man was absolutely amazing.

      • Katie says:

        Bag Man wasn’t even about Nixon’s shenanigans. It was about the VP Spiro Agnew. So much grift.

      • NotSoSocialB says:

        Bag Man was the most slickly written, dynamically spoken, best produced podcast I have listened to thus far (and I listen to a lot). I strongly recommend it.

        Secondary rec is The World Beneath. Also excellent production and writing.

      • L84Tea says:

        I will definitely check it out, thanks!

  2. smcollins says:

    Wow, looks like my Starz subscription is finally paying off. That’s a whole lot of talent that I’m looking forward to seeing in action, looks like it’s going to be amazing (I’m also already smelling an Emmy & GG nomination for JR).

    • L84Tea says:

      I just reactivated my Starz subscription so that I can watch the new episodes of Outlander. Glad I’ll get something else out of it too!

  3. Southern Fried says:

    I’m ready. Martha was an interesting character and I was too young to understand it all.

    • BeanieBean says:

      I was in high school during that time, and I read ‘All The President’s Men’ when it came out, and saw the movie in the theaters. I have a vague recollection of Martha Mitchell as a truth teller. Maybe even then I was able to see how unfairly she was being treated. Looking forward to this movie. And JK Simmons was my first thought for John Mitchell. Sean Pean? Really?

  4. SKE says:

    I have been waiting for this since the Slow Burn podcast a few years back on Martha Mitchell. A truly great story and the way she was treated was a real contrast to the veneration that Woodward and Bernstein received. She was a pistol and JR is going to eat this up.

    • Becks1 says:

      I was just going to recommend that one as well! It was so well done and was really interesting to hear about some of the finer points of what happened with Nixon. I think if I hadn’t listened to that I wouldn’t be so interested to see this.

      (Also Maddow’s Bag Man podcast about Agnew is pretty interesting too, I listened to the two back to back and it was just interesting to contrast what was happening with Nixon with what was going on with Agnew and why there was such desperation to charge Agnew before he became president.)

    • NotSoSocialB says:

      Oooh! Thanks- I’m going to go find Slow Burn!!

  5. GR says:

    This looks really interesting!

  6. Cacec says:

    I listened to the podcast “Slow Burn” a couple of years ago and not only was out surprising to hear of so many parallels with the Trump administration, but I had never heard of her and her story is absolutely horrific. I’m glad they’re doing a movie about this so more people can be aware of who this woman was.

  7. Vizia says:

    I remember when all of this started going down, and my mother said that any woman (especially a southern woman) who stood up like this was going to be “hushed into an asylum”. And then it pretty much happened. Watching my sassy southern mother’s anger and resignation angers me to this day.

    • Randie says:

      I just spent 2 hours reading all I could on Martha. Good God! What that woman went through. I am speechless!!!

    • BeanieBean says:

      ‘Hushed into an asylum’ is a truly frightening phrase.

  8. Hmmm says:

    Julia looks great lol this is perfect role for her

  9. Coconut says:

    Thank you, multiple posters for mentioning the slowburn pod; I’m going to check it out.

    If you liked Bag Man, You may also like:

    *In Plain Sight: Lady Bird Johnson (much more than meets the eye… surprise surprise)
    *The MLK Tapes (excellent, detailed telling of the conspiracy to kill him, and, spoiler, it was not James Earl Ray)

  10. lizbert says:

    Julia Roberts is usually pretty offputting to me and Sean Penn just ugh but… this sounds like a decent watch?

  11. Renee' says:

    This looks excellent. I will subscribe to Starz just to watch it.

    • kirk says:

      You and me both – sounds amazing. Martha Mitchell was made to sound crazy by all the crooks around her because they were afraid of her talking about everything she knew. Sean Penn was brilliant playing corrupt politician in All The King’s Men, so guess I’m looking forward to seeing him in his prosthetics lol.

  12. Beech says:

    I remember all the that. I watched the trailer and Roberts doesn’t look like her
    Ok ok I know it doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Everyone involved in the mess is seared into my brain. Martha was a smiling southern belle with deep dish dimples and blonde and flirted with everyone. John Mitchell was dour incarnate. She came to a very sad end.

  13. MerlinsMom1018 says:

    I remember it all. I was going into my Jr. year in high school when this all broke. It was all we studied in my current events class. We watched the hearings. “3rd rate burglary” is how Ron Ziegler (press secretary) described it.
    Yes the dumpster years were insanity itself, but the Nixon years and the criminality of it all still stands alone.
    I learned a lot about our government and the press and the law.
    I highly recommend “All the Presidents Men” and “The Final Days” by Woodward and Bernstein to get the real story on this. Incredible.

  14. Mrs. Smith says:

    I’m Dream casting Toni Collette as Martha (although Julia is a good choice). I know Stars is going for A-list actors, but yes to JK Simmons, Bruce Willis, maybe even Brian Cox? I’ll tune in regardless!

  15. Layla says:

    Ugh I just can’t with Julia Roberts. I never feel like she’s truly the character. It always just seems like Julia in different costumes and accents.