The Trial of the Chicago 7, a legal drama directed by Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, Moneyball, Steve Jobs), tells the story of the 1969 trial of a group of anti-Vietnam War protesters who came to be known as the Chicago Seven.
Sacha Baron Cohen plays Abbie Hoffman, one of the Chicago Seven who were charged in 1968 with conspiracy and inciting riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
Sacha Baron Cohen stars as Abbie Hoffman, alongside other actors portraying the Chicago Seven: Eddie Redmayne as Tom Hayden, Jeremy Strong as Jerry Rubin, John Carroll Lynch as David Dellinger, Alex Sharp as Rennie Davis, Daniel Flaherty as John Froines, and Noah Robbins as Lee Weiner.
Others include Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Bob Seale, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Richard Schultz, Michael Keaton as Ramsey Clark, and Mark Rylance as William Kunstler.
If you’ve been wondering who Abbie Hoffman was and have been searching for information about him, here is what you need to know.
Who was Abbie Hoffman?
Abbie Hoffman was a charismatic political activist who founded the Youth International Party (Yippies).
He was born on November 30, 1936, in Worcester, Massachusetts. He attended Brandeis University and the University of California, Berkeley, where he obtained degrees in psychology.
He was part of the civil rights movement and later became involved in anti-Vietnam War activism.
Sacha Baron Cohen was an obvious choice to play Abbie Hoffman who was known for his absurdist sense of humor. He adopted the tactics of guerilla theater to draw attention to his political activism.
He once led a crowd of anti-Vietnam War protesters to the Pentagon, claiming he was going to levitate the building and exorcise evil spirits from the institution.
In 1968, Hoffman participated in a protest outside the Democratic Party’s National Convention with thousands of other anti-War activists.
During the protest, he and other activists presented a pig named Pigasus as their presidential candidate.
The protest degenerated into a violent confrontation with the police.
Hoffman was convicted on charges of inciting riots
Hoffman was arrested, along with six others, on account of his involvement in the 1968 riot and charged with conspiracy and crossing state lines with the intent of inciting a riot.
He was found guilty of crossing state lines with the intent to incite a riot but was not found guilty of conspiracy.
The conviction was later overturned by an appeals court.
Hoffman was later arrested on drug charges
In 1973, Abbie Hoffman was arrested and charged with distributing cocaine. He skipped bail and went into hiding in NYC. He lived in NYC under the alias Barry Freed, after undergoing plastic surgery. During the period, he worked as an environmental activist.
He came out of hiding in 1980 to serve a one-year prison term.
He was the author of many books, including Revolution for the Hell of It (1968) and Steal This Book (1971).
Hoffman reportedly died by suicide
Abbie Hoffman was found dead in his home in April 1989 at the age of 52.
He reportedly died by suicide due to alcohol and phenobarbital overdose.
The Trial of the Chicago 7 is streaming on Netflix.