How Hulu’s ‘11.22.63’ recreated the most famous and controversial photo of Lee Harvey Oswald

Reenacted Lee Harvey Oswald ‘backyard photo’ from Hulu’s ‘11.22.63.’ Hulu

The most famous and highly debated photo of John F. Kennedy’s shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald, got a modern remake on Hulu’s new series, “11.22.63.”

The show’s producers took advantage of the time spent shooting in Dallas, Texas, Oswald’s 1960s stomping grounds. That scene with Oswald in his pose was even filmed where it actually happened — in the JFK killer’s house.

“[Executive producers Bridget Carpenter, J.J. Abrams, and Stephen King] really strove to to create that world, so much so that we shot in Dealey Plaza, we shot in Lee’s actual home,” Daniel Webber, who plays Oswald, told Business Insider. “Those small things, which, if you’re not there, the audience can tell they’re not there. But when they are there, it’s what makes great storytelling.”

Based on the 2012 King novel of the same title and executive-produced by Abrams (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”) and showrunner Bridget Carpenter (“Friday Night Lights”), “11.22.63” stars James Franco as Jake, a high school teacher who’s drafted by his ageing mentor into using a hidden portal to 1960 in order to stop the JFK assassination.

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The photo in question, dubbed the “backyard photo” of Oswald, captures the enigmatic man holding the same type of rifle used to assassinate JFK in one hand and two Communist newspapers in the other. In 1964, the photo went public on the cover of Life magazine and on the front page of the Detroit Free Press. Many believed the image to be fake. And from his jail cell, Oswald said it was a forgery, that someone had placed his head on another person’s body.

“It was one of the ones which they picked at — ‘the shadows are wrong so it’s a setup,’ ‘it’s not his real body, they put his head on there.’ It’s a very contentious photograph and an intimate photograph,” Webber explained.

It was deemed authentic by the Warren Commission and a congressional committee, yet sceptics still believed it could be forged. But last year, Dartmouth College used sophisticated 3D imaging technology to study the photo and it, too, ruled that the photo is real.


Although the scene appears early in the eight-part Hulu series, the cast and crew reenacted the photo on their last day of shooting. They really wanted to make sure they got it right, Webber told BI.

“We had the joy of really looking around and seeing who was there to take the shot, as well. Was there anybody else there? What was the day like? And just all these different things,” the Australian actor recalled.

Viewers of the Hulu series will also recognise other pivotal historic touches, such as the book depository where Oswald took the shot at the president from the sixth floor (which is a museum now — the show actually filmed the scene from the seventh floor). The show uses hundreds of extras to fill Dealey Plaza, the location of JFK’s motorcade when the fatal shot rang out. “11.22.63” also recreated the unforgettable footage of the assassination captured on private citizen Abraham Zapruder’s home-video camera.

“There are little details that people are going to pick up on,” Webber said. “People who are up to date on their history and know this story really well — because it is such a part of the American psyche — are going to really love these little details that we put out there.”

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