Phillip Noyce Parts Ways With HBO's Sean Penn-Starring Andrew Jackson Series

Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic
Phillip Noyce

The director is leaving the six-episode 'American Lion' over disagreements about how to portray darker aspects of the seventh president's legacy.

Phillip Noyce has parted ways with HBO’s Andrew Jackson biopic, American Lion, over disagreements about how the project depicts some of the more unflattering aspects of the seventh president’s policies.

Sean Penn is playing Jackson in the six-hour event series, which is being produced by Lionsgate and is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography written by former Newsweek editor Jon Meacham. Penn also is executive producer on the project, which is scheduled to go into production this summer.

Noyce broke the news himself during a May 17 panel discussion at the White House dedicated to Roots, the A+E Network reboot of the classic 1977 miniseries. But a source close to the production said Noyce — who is known for action films including Salt and Patriot Games — was let go for not providing a production stop date. It’s unclear who will replace him. Lionsgate declined comment.

Jackson is a controversial figure in American history. He owned hundreds of slaves and also presided over the widespread removal of Native Americans from their land, signing the Indian Removal Act in 1830. Meacham’s book does not whitewash the darker aspects of Jackson’s legacy. He is characterized as a self-made man, a western outsider, a violent warrior, a beloved general and the country’s first “People’s President” who fought an intractable Congress and special interests to preserve the Union at all costs.

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