Arts & Culture

Ansel Elgort Cast As Young JFK in World War II Drama

The film will center on the president's heroic naval service during World War.

Can a native New Yorker do a convincing rendition of John F. Kennedy's iconic Boston accent? We're about to find out.

It was announced today that actor Ansel Elgort, perhaps best known for his performance in adaptation of John Greene's beloved teen cancer drama A Fault in Our Stars, and more recently in the car-chase musical Baby Driver, will play the future president in Mayday 109, a film centering around JFK's heroism during World War II.

Kennedy served as a naval officer in the South Pacific, commanding the Patrol Torpedo Craft (PT) 109 following the attack on Pearl Harbor when a Japanese destroyer struck his boat.

PT 109 was wrecked, two sailors died, and the surviving crew members found themselves thrown into the ocean among the debris. Kennedy, who had been a swimmer during his college years at Harvard, towed the injured men to safety, swimming for hours until they landed on an unfamiliar island.

I'll spare you the details of their dramatic rescue (you don't want me to spoil the movie), but Kennedy was later awarded both the Navy and Marine Corps Medal and the Purple Heart for his bravery, and of his actions, he would later state, "There's nothing in the book about a situation like this. A lot of you men have families and some of you have children. What do you want to do? I have nothing to lose."

"We could not be more excited about Ansel coming aboard," Thunder Road Pictures founder Basil Iwanyk, who will co-produce the project with FlynnPictureCo., told Deadline.

"Not only is he a tremendous actor, he embodies the charisma, athleticism, and looks of a young JFK. We love that this is not a bio-pic nor a film about politics. This is simply a riveting and unbelievable tale that very few people know about a young man who was a hero long before becoming the iconic 35th President of the United States. With Ansel, we’ve found our perfect JFK."


Per Deadline, who broke the news earlier today, the production team is in search of a director, and other casting details have yet to be announced.

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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