Culture

HBO says no political agenda behind Sarah Palin film

Palin addresses a Tea Partly Express Rally in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo /Stephan Savoia)

PASADENA: In a politically polarized country, the people behind HBO’s upcoming movie on Sarah Palin’s vice presidential campaign are being careful not to take one side or the other.

“There is no agenda here,” said Danny Strong, writer of the film “Game Change,” at a news conference Friday. filmmakers said they sought historical accuracy.

The movie debuts March 10. It is based on John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s book about the 2008 presidential campaign, but focuses specifically on Palin. Director Jay Roach said he wrote a long letter to the former Alaska governor seeking an interview with her to help the film, “but I got a very quick email back from her attorney saying, ‘I checked, she declined.’”

Roach and Strong were the team behind HBO’s Emmy-winning “Recount” about the disputed 2000 presidential election.

“I don’t think this movie is going to change people’s minds one way or another,” Strong said. “People are very polarized. It’s not designed to change people’s minds.”

Actress Julianne Moore looks strikingly like Palin in her depiction. Asked what she thought of Palin after getting so close to the story, Moore said she had “profound respect” for the historical nature of the candidacy.

“There was a tremendous amount of pressure,” Moore said. “That was what I was trying to capture, the pressure that she was under.” Actor Ed Harris portrays John McCain. Although the resemblance to his character isn’t quite as sharp as Moore’s, it’s pretty close.

One unusual casting was Woody Harrelson, who plays McCain campaign strategist Steve Schmidt. The film’s story is largely seen through Schmidt’s eyes. Harrelson, who describes himself politically as “probably more an anarchist,” said he met Schmidt and liked him.

“The concept of playing this guy,” he said, “who I think ideologically couldn’t be any farther away from me felt like a real challenge.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 16, 2012, on page 16.

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