Tom Cruise and Hitler's Very Special Christmas

Monday  December 15, 2008

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Singer

Yes, 'Valkyrie' is good. Here, director Bryan Singer talks Scientology, bad buzz, and—yes—Superman

by mickey rapkin

It’s tough to pinpoint the exact moment we smelled trouble for Valkyrie, but we’re pretty sure it started with the tag: Tom Cruise’s $100 million passion project about a plot to assassinate Hitler. That photo of the star dressed as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg—complete with Nazi military dress and eye patch—didn’t help. Nor did the fact that the studio played drunken roulette with the film’s release date. By last fall, Valkyrie was said to be so radioactive it would take Cruise and his studio, United Artists, down with it.

Well, Valkyrie may still do that, but not because the movie’s bad. Shockingly, it’s a beautifully shot, tightly wound thriller that plays like a low-tech Mission: Impossible, with Cruise as a traitorous underling to der Führer. Terence Stamp, Kenneth Branagh, and Eddie Izzard (all excellent) fill out his Dirty Dozen, placing bombs in Cointreau bottles and whispering around corners. Sure, the film has its odd moments. It’s a Holocaust-era flick without a single shot of barbed wire. But as director Bryan Singer points out, it’s not like you really need any backstory: “He’s Hitler, right?”

Singer is no stranger to bad buzz. (Halle Berry once walked off the set of his X2, reportedly telling him to “kiss my black ass.”) When we ask him to explain Valkyrie’s delay, he’s armed with talking points like “There are 800 visual effects!” And “I wanna say it’s Tom Cruise like you’ve never seen him, but unfortunately that was Tropic Thunder.” Still, he will own that the public’s allergy to Cruise is a marketing “challenge.” “In the ’70s, the public didn’t worry about the budget,” he says. “Or tabloid snafus. You didn’t worry about an eye patch.” Or Scientology jokes.

Here, in an exclusive interview with GQ.com, Bryan Singer talks bad buzz, Superman, and Scientology.

Tom Cruise. Eye patch. German accent. Did you ever think, What am I getting myself into?
It didn’t come in that order. First, it was the script and an opportunity to work with Chris McQuarrie—whom I grew up with as a child and worked with on a number of occasions, including The Usual Suspects. United Artists agreed to make the picture, which we always thought would be a smaller film. And then I put it out there that Tom bore a strong resemblance to Stauffenberg, and wouldn’t it be neat if he played him?

So it was your idea to enlist Cruise?
It was undeniable. Stauffenberg was an incredibly handsome charismatic guy, dark hair, 36—which Tom can easily pass for. In the developmental process, the eye patch and all the other aspects…the reality of all the challenges set in.

When did you first sniff the bad buzz?
Having made the first two X-Men movies and Superman Returns, I’ve had a lot of experience with negative speculation. And so it wasn’t something that I paid an enormous amount of attention to.

Let’s set the record straight: Was Tom ever going to speak with a German accent? There’s a rumor that he had to dub the entire film because the accent played so poorly.
Never, never. We discussed—for about a second—the idea of Tom’s having a German accent. I remember that conversation very clearly. I was in the sitting room of his house, and I basically just said, “I don’t want to do that. You don’t want to be listening to that.” To have Tom do a German accent—and he can do a flawless accent—then you’d need all the Brits to have German accents. Can you imagine what that movie would be like? With all those people putting on German accents?

The film was originally set for summer ’08. Then it was bumped to February ’09, and then up to Christmas. What gives?
I never understood all those moves.

OK. Then what happened?
We had a desert sequence that we were originally going to shoot in Jordan or Spain. We scouted, but neither of those locations really worked—either as locations or economically. So it looked like we would be coming back to the States to shoot that sequence. Then there was an issue of timing: Could the film be finished in time? Tom’s character is injured, and to manifest these injuries we used a lot of visual effects. There are 800 visual effects in the movie. He’s missing his right hand, he’s missing two fingers on his left hand, and that all had to be removed. And he’s in the movie a lot!

The production feels kinda cursed. You wanted to shoot on location at Bendlerblock—a landmark where the plot against Hitler was hatched—but the German Finance Ministry said no. And then…
Here’s what happened. We shot two nights in our much disputed Bendlerblock location. It was an emotional night—it was a successful night—shot in the very spot where the events took place. It was a weekend, so our schedule was shuffled up to be able to accommodate the Memorial to the German Resistance, which of course makes up part of the Bendlerblock. A couple of days later, my cinematographer and my executive producer sat me down. These guys are old friends. They sat me down and said, “Bryan, we need to tell you something.” I thought someone had died. But they said the lab messed up half the night’s work from the Bendlerblock, as well as two other movies that were shooting in Berlin at this time. I was relieved no one died. But then I processed it.

So they overexposed the film. Nice. Did you throw one of your trademark fits?
We got an insurance claim, went back and reshot the material that was damaged. It wasn’t tough to get back in. To this day, I must say, I’m not quite sure what really happened with our initial blockage from that location.

Some said it had to do with the fact that Tom Cruise is a Scientologist, and the Germans consider Scientology a cult.
I remember reading that, but I’ve never actually read the quote from the person who said that specifically.

There’s something strange about this film: It’s a Holocaust-era movie with no signs of the Holocaust. No barbed wire. No concentration camps. No sense of why these guys are hunting Hitler.
That’s quite intentional, actually. In the beginning of the picture, you get a little small sense of it. But he’s Hitler, right? Also, there have been so many movies made—so well—about that subject and history.

But your movie X-Men opens at a concentration camp!
I even felt that touching upon it in X-Men...probably if it hadn’t had been a comic book film, [I wouldn’t have done it].

You were raised Jewish, but you went to Christian Youth Camp as a kid. Why?
I’m Jewish. But, yeah, I did. My best friend, Jeff, and I went to a Christian Youth camp. We didn’t really study Christian youth stuff so much as we enjoyed the activities. We mostly did sports and some camping. But, yeah, we were the only Jews. I was quite a challenging kid.

In what way?
I was always fascinated by different religions, and I was always asking questions. There was never any discussion about our being Jewish. When you’re a kid, nothing feels weird except being a kid.

As the release date approaches, do you worry about the marketing? Is it possible to get over “Tom Cruise in an eye patch”? Is that your Sarah Palin?
I don’t know what to say. My biggest movie-loving period was the mid-’70s. In the mid-’70s, you just showed up for a really cool movie. You didn’t worry about the budget. You didn’t worry about an eye patch. Is it challenging? Of course. There’s the eye patch. Sometimes he has a glass eye. I want to say it’s Tom Cruise like you’ve never seen him, but that was Tropic Thunder.

So Tom Cruise is back?
This is a thriller, and there’re not a lot of thrillers this Christmas. And I think people have invested a lot of money in Tom Cruise over the years. They have a great proprietorship for him, and even though there may have been a snafu with the tabloids or whatever—I’d like to not underestimate that faith. He’s kind of the audience’s son in a way. They’ve raised him in a way through these movies, and I’d like to think they’ll be happy to see him in this movie. This is the kind of movie I’d like to see Tom Cruise do.

At one point, you were set to direct the Harvey Milk story. Was it tough to watch someone else tackle it?
I felt that I was betraying a wonderful story and a wonderful character by being too busy. So I’m just happy it’s made. And it’s being made by people I know and people I like and people who are quite passionate about it.

What’s the latest with Superman? Is there going to be another one with you directing?
I imagine there will be. I just don’t know. I just finished the final mix on Valkyrie, and then I’m taking a break. I couldn’t talk about what I’m going to do directorially next. I have a lot of projects for my company that are brewing. Doing these things while I’m abroad is very difficult. So now that I’m back, I’m going to focus on Superman for a little bit.

Sounds like you’re hedging.
I can’t tell you. I wish I could. But it probably will, it probably will happen. In the end, the first one did well.

It made $200 domestically—and another $190 million internationally. Are expectations out of whack?
I think they are. It actually did quite well [laughs]. I’m trying to be modest about the whole thing.

Follow the Leaders

Monday  December 15, 2008

You don't have to agree with their policies, but you do have to give it up for the timeless looks of our most stylish presidents. Here's how to get all executive this spring, from LBJ's specs to JFK's boat shoes

*****

1. Charting the Course

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He may have been a navy man, but JFK got his effortless nautical style from his days in Hyannis Port. Perfect khakis, lace-up boat shoes—the look works as well today as it did in '62.

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Sperry Top-Sider, $45

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Acne, $225

*****

2. Wearing It on His Chest

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Barack Obama wears stars and stripes on his lapel (because we all know, you're not patriotic without a flag pin, right?). But for those of us not leading the free world, there are plenty of smarter, cooler designs to spruce up our jackets.

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$70

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$60

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$50; All by Giles and Brothers by Philip Crangi

*****

3. Ruling the Western World

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As president, Ronald Reagan—somehow—showed men how to look good in a brown suit. But it was on his Santa Barbara ranch that he returned to the western cool of his Hollywood days, with faded denim shirts as comfortable as a second skin.

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Converse One Star at Target, $23

*****

4. Looking the Part

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Remember all those working vacations in Crawford? The Western White House? Bush always wore a pair of square-framed aviators that looked good and kept the sun out of his eyes so he could focus on the real work—clearing brush.

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Randolph Engineering for J. Crew, $99

*****

5. Showing He's Got Vision

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LBJ, partial to old-school horn-rimmed glasses, narrow ties, and trim, dark suits, predated the urban hipster by about, oh, forty years.

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Moscot, $179

*****

6. Leading with His Head

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Sure, FDR, saved the country from economic ruin and fascism. But let's not forget his other major accomplishment: popularizing the fedora. He rarely appeared without it. Now, just as the fedora's enjoying a comeback, we're searching for a new New Deal.

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Borsalino at J.J. Hats Center, $375

*****

7. Prepping for the Job

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One of the more well-appointed men to inhabit the Oval Office, H.W., with his East Coast Yalie tastes, gave meaning to the term well schooled. From tailored blue suits to colorful watchbands to elegant cuff links, his was what we like to call executive style.

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Paul Stuart, $347

*****

8. Rather Be Golfing

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Golfer-in-chief Dwight Eisenhower managed an extraordinary one hundred rounds a year while holding office. He'd practice on the South Lawn and play with anyone visiting dignitaries to generals to VP Richard Nixon. Classic cardigans and newsboy caps kept him primed for the links.

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Band of Outsiders, $455

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Original Penguin, $38

*****

9. Boasting Scottish Ties

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The Kansas City haberdashery he once owned may have failed, but Harry Truman never lost his style sense. Not only did the man wear tartan with pride, he was also natty enough to pull off the contrasting tie and pocket square. Now that's maverick.—sarah goldstein

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Hermès, $180

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Robert Talbott, $75

Rob Corddry Checks Into "Childrens' Hospital"

Tuesday  December 09, 2008

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Corddry

Consider yourself warned

by mickey rapkin

Rob Corddry made his name on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, memorably finding the humor in the otherwise laugh-free 2004 election. Since then, he’s become a go-to player in idiot comedies (Harold & Kumar: Escape from Guantanamo Bay, Oliver Stone’s W.) Now Corddry is assaulting the Internet with a new series, Childrens’ Hospital—a Grey’s Anatomy spoof about oversexed doctors and hospital clowns. And it’s a much funnier time-suck than that YouTube video of someone’s toilet-bound cat that you just watched. (Childrens’ Hospital launches December 8 on TheWB.com.) Here, Corddry talks Stone, what he misses about The Daily Show, and the most annoying thing about ABC’s Lost.

A show set at a children’s hospital? Where did you get the idea?
It’s actually a horrible story. I was at Childrens Hospital in L.A., because my daughter—she was about one at the time—pulled a ligament out of joint in her arm. We went to the emergency room. My wife was in the treatment room with her, and I was kind of hanging out in the waiting room. And all of a sudden, the doors slam open, a gurney was pushed through, ten doctors and nurses around the gurney are yelling “Stat!” and there’s IV bags everywhere. I was like, Oh man, this is awesome. This is just like it happens on TV! But then I thought, Wait a minute. This is a children’s hospital. I saw the tiny little body and the kid-sized neck splint. It’s horrifying. It just made me think, These hospital shows are really just all about inappropriate sexual politics. What’s the most inappropriate setting for that as possible?

Did you watch hours of Grey’s Anatomy for research?
I watch Grey’s Anatomy, like, with one eye. From the computer. It’s not a good show. I look up from the computer, and all of a sudden there’s a teenage kid encased in cement. And he’s doing it for some girl. And I’m like, What the fuck planet does this show exist on? But then again, if I watched it like my wife—which is to say, all the time—maybe these things wouldn’t seem so fucking crazy.

By the way, your baby girl was in the emergency room and you were thinking about TV ideas? What did your wife say about that?
She’s a very patient woman.

Childrens’ Hospital is premiering on TheWB.com. Did you receive notes from TheWB.com standards and practices department? If this had been on traditional network TV, what might have been cut?
I don’t think very many of those 9/11 jokes would fly on TV. There’s a running gag about 9/11 jokes.

Oof.
The last joke is, like, how the characters are gonna celebrate 9/11 Eve.

Have you figured out how to make money on the Internet?
No, there’s no such thing yet.

Megan Mullally has a nice role. How did you get her to put a condom on a banana?
She played like she was really uncomfortable doing it. But you know, she wasn’t at all. She was like, “Oh God, Rob I can’t believe you’re making me do this.” And then the most horrible things would come out of her mouth.

Where did you shoot this thing?
We shot in Van Nuys. We shot in the hospital that Judd Apatow always shoots at. It’s been in three of his movies. It’s a real hospital, but it’s been abandoned for like five or ten years. So they just rent it out. [pause] It’s a really cheap set.

It sounds kinda creepy.
It’s pretty creepy. It’s in the middle of Van Nuys. It’s a hundred degrees, and it’s dirty, like fucking filthy. And there’s nothing like biological filth!

Well, it looks slick, anyway.
Thanks. I love these Internet films. But the one thing they’re missing is production values.

You’re throwing up all ten episodes at once. Is this the way the business is moving?
That’s the way I watch TV now. I DVR a bunch of shows, and then I’ll watch five in a row. Or I’ll get the DVD. I’m not in the business of fucking waiting. That’s why I hate Lost. I thought it was the best show on TV, and now I just resent it.

Do you have to watch horrible children’s TV with your daughter?
All we watch with her is Sesame Street and Pixar movies. We tried to watch that stupid fucking hipster kids show. It’s horrible. I don’t bring her into the video store anymore, because we always come out with Thomas the Tank Engine, and I can’t stand that shit.

You covered the 2004 election for The Daily Show. Was it hard to watch this year from home?
I’m glad that I have nothing to do with it anymore. Of course, I miss it, but I don’t miss campaign coverage for a second. At that point, we were living the lives of actual journalists, and we’re not that at all—we’re functional alcoholic comedians. I don’t have any interest in eighteen-hour days on my feet at a convention, trying to punk talking heads. It was really horrible. We’d start running into these ABC reporters all the time; we started to become friendly with them. I do not envy their lives.

Didn’t you study journalism briefly?
I was a journalism major for one day at UMass.

I’m still shocked you got your start with the National Shakespeare Company.
It sounds a lot more impressive than it is. In reality, it was eight of us in a fifteen-passenger van, touring junior colleges with, like, no sets. It was pretty bare-bones. But it was one of the most satisfying professional experiences of my life.

Do you secretly wish you were playing Hamlet instead of co-starring in Harold & Kumar?
I’m too old to play Hamlet now, aren’t I? He’s supposed to be in college. Then again, like, 50-year old men play him. I most likely do not have a Hamlet in me. I do, however, have a Henry V in me and would be glad to break that out at any time. My brother and I are doing True West at Williamstown Theatre Festival next summer.

Sam Shepard? Nice work.
My agent was really funny. He was really agenty about it. I said, “Oh man, this is going to be great! We’re doing True West at Williamstown!” And he goes: “Wow, man, congratulations. That’s really good news. Theater’s really easy to get out of.”

Like, if you got a high-paying movie job, you could back out of the play. That’s funny.
He was totally serious, thinking he was giving me the good news I hadn’t thought of.

You played Ari Fleischer in Oliver Stone’s W. How’d that come about? Did Stone think: Bald guy…let’s get Corddry!
It’s like me and Stanley Tucci. And he’s a little bit too old, and I was a little bit too young.

Oliver Stone give you much advice?
Here’s a good story. You know, when you wrap on a movie, everyone applauds. I just happened to wrap on a day when most of the cast wrapped—so there was raucous applause for Richard Dreyfuss and Bruce McGill and Thandie Newton…and myself. And Oliver was just walking around giving everyone a hug. He gave me this big hug, a kiss on the cheek, and whispered something in my ear. But everyone was applauding so loud, I have no idea what he said to me!

Really?
I have no fucking idea what one of the greatest directors of our time whispered in my ear. He was probably like, [whispering] This is your last one. You blew it. It’s like my Lost in Translation.

Speaking of W., where were you the night that Josh Brolin and Jeffrey Wright got arrested? Did you have their back?
No. I was at a restaurant a block over from where they were. I was feeling kind of solitary that night.

Okay. What if you’d been there? Would you have gotten in on the fight?
It depends on how drunk I was.

Four Reasons Chicago Is GQ's City of the Year

Thursday  December 04, 2008

1. politics

Politics

For decades, Chicago has been a proving ground for any left-leaning midwesterner hoping to make the leap to D.C. But this year, the city made its mark as the seat of political power—and not just because the two top Democratic presidential candidates have roots there. Here are the six Windy City Democrats who are changing the way Chicago—and the rest of the country—does politics.

Richard M. Daley
mayor

As civic leader Valerie Jarrett puts it, “All roads lead to Mayor Daley.” Daley was an early proponent of the green city, overhauled public housing, and put together a multiracial coalition of business and civic leaders. He’s even working to get Chicago onto the world stage with a bid for the 2016 Olympic Games. If there’s any question as to whether Chicago residents want someone new, one need only look at last year’s election, where he won all fifty wards in the city.

David Axelrod
chief strategist for Obama

Better than anyone in or outside the Beltway, Axelrod knows how to frame a candidate for a skeptical public. In 2004 he helped a little-known state senator win a race for U.S. Senate, and he’s seen as being largely responsible for the no-drama ethos of the Obama presidential campaign. Forget James Carville and Joe Trippi; come January, Axelrod will be the party’s most sought-after consultant.

J. B. and Penny Pritzker
fund-raisers

These ultrarich siblings are the leading liberal moneymen in the city. He shilled for Hillary, and she broke fund-raising records for Obama. They wield more financial power for the Democrats than anyone else in the Midwest.

Jesse Jackson Jr. and Sandi Jackson
U.S. congressman and Chicago alderwoman

This husband and wife are a match in every way. The son of the Reverend Jesse Jackson, he’s moved from under his father’s shadow as a widely respected congressman; she beat out an entrenched machine pol for her seat in Chicago’s Seventh Ward. Odds are that one (or both) makes a play for higher office. Watching their rise, one can’t help but be reminded of another famous Democratic power couple.—sarah goldstein

*****

2. film

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The Dark Knight may end up being remembered as the final glimpse of Heath Ledger’s genius, but there was another mesmerizing presence in the year’s highest-grossing film: the city of Chicago. It was on Chicago’s expansive streets—and just as often above them—that the action unfolded. Emma Thomas, one of the film’s producers and the wife of director Christopher Nolan, explains the decision to bring Gotham to the Midwest.

“Chris had always wanted to ground Gotham in a real place and do as much on-location shooting as he could. He was looking for a city that could be larger than life. One of the amazing things about Chicago is that it’s built on different levels, and that was perfect for the action in The Dark Knight. There are so many different styles of architecture, and it all works together fantastically. Bruce Wayne’s bedroom was shot in a hotel downtown, and the party scene was in the lobby of another building. Plus, we got to do some really crazy stuff. We blew up a building; we flipped over an eighteen-wheeler. And it’s not like we were doing it on some out-of-the-way deserted street. We were doing it in the financial center of the city. All the scenes where people are evacuating—we really did that. They let us close down their streets for weeks at a time. I think one of the reasons the film feels so big is that we were able to use every inch of Chicago and make the movie feel like a complete world."—as told to sarah goldstein

*****

3. literature

Bellow, Sandburg, Mamet. These are some of the heavyweights who carved out Chicago’s reputation as a writer’s town. But the first two are long gone, and Mamet is living near the beach in L.A. Luckily for readers everywhere, a new crop have emerged with their own stories to tell. Jonathan Messigner, co-founder of Chicago’s independent Featherproof Books, takes us through an exceptional year in the city’s literary tradition.—sarah goldstein

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The Lazarus Project
by Aleksandar Hemon

Hemon, a Bosnian native, wound up living in Chicago when Sarajevo came under siege in 1992, and by 2004 he’d mastered the English language enough to make the MacArthur Foundation come knocking with a “genius” grant. Hemon used the grant to write this year’s Lazarus Project, a brilliant novel about a Bosnian journalist in Chicago who becomes obsessed with a Jewish immigrant. The author of the year’s best book is not technically from around these parts, but we’re happy to embrace him as our own.

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Demons in the Spring
by Joe Meno

Prolific South Sider Meno is the closest thing we’ve got to a literary ambassador. Demons explores the darker side of damaged adolescence and is sure to be handed to every 16-year-old Chicagoan with a learner’s permit. No one has captured the odd blend of grit and fantasy, community and danger, that comes with an urban upbringing quite like Meno.

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Stop Smiling

The most literary magazine that isn’t actually a literary magazine, SS is cut from the mold of ’60s countercultural mags and dedicated to the idiosyncratic enthusiasms of its editors, who have set about reviving the old-school, Playboy-style long-form interview. With issues devoted to boxing, cult heroes, and outlaws, you’re not going to find anything like it on the rack.

*****

4. architecture

Arch

The next American landmark isn’t just another impossibly tall megastructure; it’s a skyscraper doing a pirouette. Designed by starchitect Santiago Calatrava, the Chicago Spire, when completed (developers are predicting 2012), will be the world’s tallest residential tower—giving man the chance to live, at last, with his head in the clouds.—michael hsu

• Each of its 150 stories will be, on average, 2.44 degrees askew from the one below it. The entire building will corkscrew 360 degrees upward.

• At 2,000 feet high, the Spire will have the world’s longest elevator run. A trip to the top will cover the length of more than five football fields. Once you get there, you’ll be able to see the curvature of the earth.

• Because of its unusual shape, the 1,194 apartments in the seven-sided building will all be unique, right down to the doorknobs. Each will be designed by Calatrava, and some will bear his handprint.

• The Spire will be the thinnest supertall building ever built—about half the width of the nearby Sears Tower.

• The shape of the building will help direct wind upward, preventing gusts near the ground.

• The top floor will have a 10,000-square-foot duplex penthouse with wraparound views. On clear days, you will see four states.

• The building will have a (very long) garbage chute that automatically separates trash from recycling.


Bottle It Up

Thursday  December 04, 2008

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Here's an easy way to go green without sacrificing comfort. Bionic Yarn, a synthetic material crafted from recycled plastic bottles, is sort of like the tofu of fabrics—you can add just about anything to it. It can be wound with denim, cotton, and a number of other fabrics to make shirts, jeans, and bags, and companies like Endstar have found it optimal for the outdoors. Just ask Pharrell Williams. "When I'm on tour I bring my Endstar sleeping bag with me," he says. "It's super comfortable and compact." While your purchase may not save the world, it will help make a dent in the twenty-two billion or so water bottles that end up in landfills each year (each of Endstar's products contains as many as eighteen old plastic containers). That's reason to sleep a little easier.—andrew richdale

Endstar.com

Ted Kennedy: Legend

Tuesday  December 02, 2008

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By Wil. S Hylton; Photograph by Mark Seliger

He was born the youngest and seemed the least: less beautiful than his brothers, less eloquent, less sure. He drank and sang and wrecked cars, slipped into Harvard on the family name…and was suspended for cheating. Yet there he stood in the summer of ’68, at the lectern alone to bury his second brother in five years. Teddy, grave and expansive now, filling the hall with a eulogy at once mournful and uplifting, channeling the inspirational power that would now be his inheritance. “My brother need not be idealized,” he boomed, “to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it. As he said many times, ‘Some men see things as they are and say, Why? I dream things that never were and say, Why not?’ ” In time even that would prove too small for Teddy. Over the next four decades, he would learn not only to dream of what wasn’t but to make it so. On nearly every issue affecting the poor since 1962, he has led the charge for change: raising the minimum wage, providing insurance for children, advancing bilingual education and Head Start. There is today no American who does not owe him a debt. For civil rights and voting rights. For privacy and choice. For clean air and fresh water. In an era of partisan gridlock, he forged alliances and straddled parties, aligning himself with his political nemeses—Hatch, Thurmond, Bush. And now, with the benefit of old age denied his brothers, his health begins to slip away. But the fire still burns. He has sworn to attend Obama’s inauguration. He is anxious to return to the Senate. He is desperate to pass universal health care. There are mistakes in his past, yes, some of them unforgivable. But this, perhaps, is the price of greatness. He is a cornerstone of a country we love, a founding father of the nation as we know it. His time draws close, and the gift more precious daily.—wil s. hylton

Click here to read Senator Edward M. Kennedy's endorsement of Barack Obama, from GQ's December 2008 issue.

And click here to read Michael Kelly's devastatingly candid portrait of Kennedy, from GQ's February 1990 issue.