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Leonardo DiCaprio will soon be playing Jim Jones in an upcoming biopic about the cult leader's life.
MGM secured the deal for the feature film project entitled “Jim Jones,” Deadline reported on Monday. In addition to playing the cult leader, DiCaprio, 46, will also be a producer on the movie.
Jones led the Peoples Temple cult for years before orchestrating a mass murder-suicide in the isolated jungle commune of Jonestown in Guyana in 1978. More than 900 people died during the event, described by Jones as a “revolutionary suicide.” The majority died by drinking cyanide-laced grape-flavored Flavor Aid, an even that became popularized in culture through the phrase “drinking the Kool-Aid.” Of the dead, more than 200 were children, according to the FBI.
Jones also died during the event, reportedly from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The script of “Jim Jones,” from “Venom” writer Scott Rosenberg, will chronicle Jones' influence over his followers in the years before their deaths. The cult began in 1955 in Indianapolis and, soon after its creation, Jones began promoting Christian Socialism and claiming to be God. He moved the headquarters to San Francisco in the 1970s, a time when the group's popularity soared. Local politicians, including Harvey Milk, had links to the group, Rolling Stone reported last year. But by 1977, Jones became paranoid amidst negative media scrutiny over some of the Temple's activities and he constructed Jonestown in rural Guyana as an escape from U.S. oversight.
Even then, the scrutiny continued.The mass suicide took place just days after Jones orchestrated the killing of U.S. government representative Leo Ryan, who went to Guyana to investigate allegations about human rights abuse in Jonestown.
“The allegations were serious: Jonestown sounded more like a slave camp than a religious center,” the FBI stated. “There was talk of beatings, forced labor and imprisonments, the use of drugs to control behavior, suspicious deaths, and even rehearsals for a mass suicide.”
Ryan attempted to leave Guyana after a visit to the commune, along with some families who asked to flee with him. As Ryan’s plane tried to take off, a dump truck from Jonestown arrived and opened fire. Several others were killed or wounded in the confrontation.
Before the September 11th attacks, the Jonestown mass killing was the largest number of American civilian casualties in a single non-natural event.
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