Woody Harrelson's late father Charles Harrelson was a Texas hit-man who had famously claimed to have killed President Kennedy (he was sentenced to life in prison for murdering a Texas judge), but later admitted that he made-up the story.
This is the 2nd time Jeffery Donovan plays a Kennedy in a movie. The first time was in J. Edgar when he portrayed Robert F. Kennedy. He will portray John F. Kennedy, Robert's older brother. This also makes him the second actor to play both brothers: Martin Sheen has also played them both.
In an interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Woody Harrelson said he called Bryan Cranston and asked for advice for the role, Bryan Cranston was also shooting his own LBJ movie All the Way (2016) at around the same time. And Cranston did help him by giving advice and putting Harrelson in touch with people who knew LBJ.
Democrat President Lyndon Johnson continued the FBI's wiretapping of Martin Luther King Jr'., that had been previously authorized by the Kennedy Administration of President John F. Kennedy. As a result of listening to the FBI's tapes, remarks on King's extra-marital activities were made by several prominent officials, including Johnson, who once said that King was a "hypocritical preacher".
This is Gary Grubbs's second film involving the aftermath of the Kennedy Assassination. The first being JFK (1991). In that film he was a member of Jim Garrison's legal team investigating the assassination.
During an interview on the "The Charlie Rose Show", Woody Harrelson said he had been offered to play the part in another biopic on LBJ and turned down the part but when Rob Reiner offered him the role in his movie, he couldn't turn down an offer to work with Rob Reiner, calling it a great honor to work with him.
LBJ can been seen wearing a pin on his left lapel. This pin has the colors of the Silver Star medal. In WWII congressman LBJ visited MacArthur in the Pacific. LBJ asked to ride along a bombing mission. LBJ was awarded the Silver Star, yet no one else on the flight did.
The wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson, Claudia Alta Taylor Johnson (played in this movie by Jennifer Jason Leigh), was best-known by her childhood nickname, "Lady Bird." This movie was coincidentally released into U.S. theaters simultaneously with a movie titled "Lady Bird." That movie has nothing to do with the Johnsons or the American presidency, but it was written and directed by Greta Gerwig--the romantic partner of Leigh's former husband, Noah Baumbach.
Woody Harrelson was first approached about portraying LBJ by old friend and one-time roommate Rob Moran, but Woody remained hesitant. However, when Rob Reiner later broached him about the biopic Woody reconsidered.
Ironically, Rob Reiner and Woody Harrelson disliked LBJ immensely, primarily due to his stance on Vietnam. It was only after they'd delved more deeply into his life that they began to see the softer and insecure side of the man.
Even though they'd both known each other for years, director Rob Reiner never actually met Jennifer Jason Leigh in the flesh during this shoot because she arrived each day on set already in makeup and costume as Lady Bird Johnson. Not until the film wrapped and they shared a flight home did Rob have the opportunity to re-engage with Jennifer in an informal setting.