The Watergate scandal that took down President Richard Nixon’s administration has been covered tremendously by Hollywood over the years, but it looks like there’s still a fresh story to be told. Julia Roberts and Sean Penn are headed to Starz in a new limited series, Gaslit, that focuses on Martha Mitchell, the bold wife of U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell who first blew the whistle about Nixon’s misdeeds.
The trailer shows an unrecognizable Roberts in full-1970s’ wardrobe with rich brocade dresses adorned with rhinestones and heavily coiffed hair, surrounded by the men who are trying to dim Martha’s bright light amid the Watergate scandal. The Arkansas-born socialite was no shrinking violet, and her colorful personality often drew the ire of the Democratic Party, which is why she was nicknamed the “Mouth of the South.” And that’s where Roberts shows off her skills in bringing Martha to life — the video gives hints of the Erin Brockovich sass that won her an Oscar in 2001.
Martha was reportedly drugged and held hostage at a Newport Beach, California hotel in 1972 after she publicly verbalized her suspicions about Nixon, and the Watergate break-in became public. She was often at odds with her husband and the presidential administration he worked for because they didn’t love seeing her in the spotlight. Coupled with her insider Watergate information, there was “a great effort in the White House to discredit Martha Mitchell,” per The New York Times.
That’s where Roberts digs deep into the role and showcases the sexism Martha encountered as they gaslit her while she was held as a “political prisoner.” It’s a dream casting for creator Robbie Pickering, who told Vanity Fair that the Oscar winner embodies the moral compass that Martha had – she exemplifies “why people like Martha rebel against being complicit and start telling the truth.”
Before you go, click here to see the best movie & TV transformations into well-known women.