How does it feel to be a BAFTA nominee?
‘It feels thrilling. It feels like a miracle the movie made it from the script to the screen at all. The fact that this movie got made, and that it’s made it’s way across the pond and connected with so many people in the UK is a real thrill for me.’
Aside from your own movie, what other nominated films are getting you excited?
‘I think Tinker Tailor was amazing, Moneyball was amazing. So many great films have been made this year internationally, it’s a pretty heady group to share some nominations with – a really good year for movies.’
I’m curious, the movie went through quite a long development process didn’t it?
‘I wrote the play eight years ago, and then a couple of years after I wrote the play i t got optioned for a movie with George Clooney producing, and then he decided to direct. I wrote the first feew drafts, and then turned it over to Grant and George, and what you see on the screen is a combination of all our efforts.’
When it comes to giving your baby to George and Grant, what was it like?
‘I’ll raise a baby with George and Grant any day of the week; it turned into a pretty healthy one, and now it’s got its own legs and its own life. George, from the very beginning wanted to remain faithful to the play, it wasn’t one of those stories of just cherry picking things here and there and turning it into something else. He wanted to remain true to the core story, so I was never worried that anything was going to happen to it in a bad way. Adapting it into a story just gave us an opportunity to expand characters deep in the world and really capture the adrenalin of a campaing in a way you can’t do on the stage.’
Aside from the title, there is an air of Roman-esque politics in the film. Did you have that in mind when you wrote it, or did the title come about later?
‘Not even Shakespeare or brutus or Julius Cesar themselves invented ambition or hubris, backstabbing politics. I think that’s been around since men and women could stand upright and hit each other with clubs, It definitely was at the back of our minds. Really we just set out to write a contemporary tale about a young man dealing with some pretty universal and difficult moral choices.’
The Republican primary is going on at the moment…
‘This film could just as easily have been about Republicans. It just so happens that Govenor Mike Morris in the movie is a Democrat, and a fairly liberal one, but you could have switched over to the other side of the isle, because it’s really not a movie about politics, it’s a movie about desire and ambition and loyalty, and that can be true in any number of worlds, whether it’s politics or finance or at home, sibling rivalry. I think it’s poignant right now because there’s quite a happening across the states, but I hope it transcends any given political moment.