BULLY. COWARD. VICTIM. THE STORY OF ROY COHN, debuting FRIDAY, JUNE 19 (8:00-9:45 p.m. ET/PT), takes an unflinching look at the life and death of infamous attorney Roy Cohn, who first gained prominence by prosecuting Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in what came to be known as the “atomic spies” case. The documentary draws on extensive, newly unearthed archival material to present the most revealing examination of Roy Cohn to date. Director Ivy Meeropol (“Indian Point,” HBO’s “Heir to an Execution”) brings a unique perspective as the granddaughter of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg; having spent much of her life feeling both repelled and fascinated by the man who prosecuted her grandparents, obtained their convictions in federal court and then insisted on their executions.
This film will also be available to stream on HBO GO, HBO NOW, and on HBO via HBO Max and other partners’ platforms.
BULLY. COWARD. VICTIM. THE STORY OF ROY COHN had its World Premiere at the 2019 New York Film Festival. The film’s HBO debut on June 19 marks the 67th Anniversary of the execution of Meeropol’s grandparents, the Rosenbergs.
This riveting profile chronicles Cohn’s life from the late 1950s as chief counsel to Senator Joseph McCarthy, when he first began wielding political power, through the 1980s, when he became a darling of the Reagan White House, a rabid anti-homosexuality activist and political mentor to Donald J. Trump before meeting his death from AIDS in 1986.
Featuring a trove of fascinating, unearthed archive material as well as recently discovered audiotapes of candid discussions between Cohn and journalist Peter Manso, recorded at the height of Cohn’s career as a power broker in the rough and tumble world of New York City’s business and politics, this vivid portrait focuses on family, friends, colleagues, employees and lovers, as well as those targeted by Cohn – all of whom were profoundly affected by crossing paths with him. The film follows key periods of Cohn’s life, including his time in Provincetown, MA, where he was considerably more open about his sexuality than in other settings, and where he shared a house with Manso and novelist, Norman Mailer.
The documentary includes numerous interviews, including John Waters, Cindy Adams, Alan Dershowitz, Nathan Lane and Tony Kushner, whose 2018 Pulitzer Prize and Tony-winning revival of “Angels in America” featured Lane as Cohn. Lane offers insight into how devastatingly dangerous the actual Roy Cohn was and how he wielded power through invective and innuendo.
“Roy Cohn made his name prosecuting and pushing for the execution of my grandparents Ethel and Julius Rosenberg,” says Meeropol. “Many years later he became Donald Trump’s lawyer, mentor and close friend. If there was ever a time to reflect on how we got here it is now. I am so grateful for the opportunity to share the film with HBO audiences.”
BULLY. COWARD. VICTIM. THE STORY OF ROY COHN is a Motto Pictures and Red 50 Production for HBO Documentary Films; directed by Ivy Meeropol; producers, Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements, Ivy Meeropol, Carolyn Hepburn; associate producer, Juan Daniel Torres; co-producers, Marissa Ericson, Peter Manso; consulting producer, Frank Rich; director of photography, Daniel B. Gold; editors, Anne Alvergue and Adam Kurnitz; music by Nathan Halpern, Chris Ruggiero. For HBO: executive producers, Nancy Abraham and Lisa Heller.