Those days are over. He recently wrapped a remake of Snow White, where he’s the prince (naturally), and is set to play the title role in The Lone Ranger, with Johnny Depp as his Tonto. “I’ve said before, I think I am piggybacking on people who are more talented than I.”
J. Edgar’s script was written by Dustin Lance Black, who won an Oscar for Milk and is gay. “What really brings the film to life are the scenes that no one can prove happened,” says Hammer. And the actor’s nuanced performance as the young agent in those scenes has just the right amount of circumspect queenliness. “Back then, to be publicly gay, you were done for. But even in his application to the FBI, Tolson said he had no interest in marrying or being with a woman,” Hammer says. “While not fully out, he knew who he was and almost embraced it. He loved getting the sharpest suits. He was like, ‘Look at my fucking awesome pocket square. I am flossing it.’ ”
When it comes to gay rights, or indeed any social issues, Hammer flosses to the left. “I don’t think I should tell you what to do, nor should the government. As long as you enjoy your own personal liberties and don’t infringe on the liberties of others, I don’t care.” Which may not exactly be how Hoover might’ve seen things. But then, he (and his trusty aide) were responsible not only for one of the most respected crime-fighting organizations in the world but also for laying the groundwork for an all-seeing, all-knowing government. “I’m not paranoid,” Hammer says, speaking his piece. Yes, but does he think that Big Brother is watching us, even as we speak?
“Who knows, man?” he says. Then he ducks down, nods his head, and, suppressing a knowing smile, exaggeratedly mouths the word yes.