‘Chappaquiddick’ star explains why transforming into Ted Kennedy left him bloody

Jason Clarke underwent a physical toll to play the late senator.


Actor Jason Clarke took his physical transformation to play Senator Edward M. Kennedy in “Chappaquiddick” very seriously — so seriously, in fact, that he bled for the role.

Clarke stopped by “Late Night with Seth Meyers” on Thursday to discuss the physical toll of achieving the Kennedy look, his approach to the Boston accent, and how Martha’s Vineyard residents who were on the island in the aftermath of the 1969 car crash on which the film is based reacted to the movie.

Clarke previously told Boston.com that in order to more closely resemble Kennedy, he wore a set of large false teeth and “plumpers” in each cheek to make his face fuller during filming. When Meyers asked Clarke about performing in the teeth, the Australian actor revealed that they caused a bit of damage.


“It’s one thing to do it for an hour; it’s another one to do it for 16 hours a day,” Clarke said. “My mouth would be bleeding with those teeth after a while. It hurts.”

Clarke also previously told Boston.com that when he initially began shooting “Chappaquiddick,” he was outfitted with a larger set of false teeth before the filmmakers ultimately settled on the set used in the film. Clarke told Meyers that his Kennedy impression and Boston accent started out with a heavy lisp.

“It was very thick in my mouth, so my Ted had a lisp,” he said. “As I was getting ready, I was, you know, ‘The thells thea thells by the theathore.’”

Clarke and Meyers talked about a screening of the film that was held on Martha’s Vineyard, as well. Clarke said that several of the attendees had been on the island when Mary Jo Kopechne died in 1969.

“We screened it there recently on the island, and when we asked for a show of hands of literally who was there on the day, there was a lot of people that were,” Clarke said. “There were a lot of deep, emotional reactions to this. One gentleman in particular got up and said, ‘Thank you. Thank you for this film. We’ve all carried this around, we all know what happened.'”


“Chappaquiddick” hits theaters Friday.