The Sunday Times is reporting that “Borat” and “Sweeney Todd” star Sacha Baron Cohen has been cast as Abbie Hoffman in the Steven Spielberg-directed The Trial of the Chicago 7. Hoffman is a figure from the 1960s counterculture who used a series of pranks to campaign against the Vietnam war.
The Trial of the Chicago 7 follows protesters who disrupted the 1968 Democrat party convention with an anti-Vietnam war “carnival” that turned nasty. Demonstrators threw bricks, police responded with tear gas and the center of Chicago was engulfed in flames. Curfews only escalated the violence.
After the clashes, independent investigators blamed eight police officers and eight protesters including Hoffman, who had already disrupted the New York Stock Exchange with showers of fake money.
The police were not charged but the protesters were accused of inciting a riot. One was jailed for contempt, leaving the seven to fight the charges.
Hoffman went on to become an irascible celebrity who, later diagnosed with a bipolar disorder, killed himself with pills in 1989.