Oscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio is set to portray cult leader Jim Jones in an upcoming biopic about the man responsible for the horrific mass murder-suicide that killed over 900 Americans over 40 years ago.
The film will chronicle Jones' rise as a religious leader, which saw him promote Christian Socialism before openly rejecting Christianity and claiming he was god. He founded the Peoples Temple, a religious organization that developed a cult following and eventually became headquartered in San Francisco in 1965.
Jones famously established a remote settlement in Guyana called "Jonestown" where he along with over 900 other people lived in 1978-1979.
In November, 1979, Congressman Leo Ryan, who represented multiple Contra Costa County cities, organized a 17-person delegation – which included now Congresswoman Jackie Speier – to go on a fact-finding mission to Jonestown to investigate allegations of human rights abuses at the camp.
On Nov. 18, while on an airstrip tarmac boarding a plane to depart the area, the group was ambushed by gun-wielding cult members.
Five people, including Ryan and reporters from NBC News, the San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post and San Francisco Examiner, were killed while Speier and others suffered multiple gunshot wounds.
Jones then orchestrated a mass-suicide by forcing members of the camp to drink Flavor-aid mixed with cyanide, which killed 918 residents, including Jones. The massacre represented the second-largest number of American civilian casualties in a single-non-natural event, only behind Sept. 11, 2001.
DiCaprio will both star in and produce the yet-to-be-named film, while Venom writer Scott Rosenberg will pen the script.
The movie is being made by MGM.
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