Bill Condon on ‘The Fifth Estate’
When Moviefone sat down with Condon in Toronto, the director revealed the “terror” of taking on a WikiLeaks movie, the dancing Cumberbatch-as-Assange you never knew you wanted to see, and reuniting with Sir Ian McKellen for his next film, “A Slight Trick of the Mind.”
Moviefone: The events surrounding WikiLeaks and Julian Assange are so public and complicated — you could say that bringing that story to the big screen is a daunting task. Was there any apprehension about taking on the project? What went through your mind?
Bill Condon: There’s an awful lot of terror, you know, which gets assuaged the more you immerse yourself in it and find out. But yeah, it’s so immensely complicated. And it’s an ongoing story, and Assange, obviously, is in this complicated situation himself. There are a lot of potential pitfalls here.
Was there one thing that made you say to yourself, “Okay, I have to do this movie.”
Oh, man. That’s a good question. I think it was, actually, having followed the story pretty closely, it was reading that early draft of the script. I think when I saw that there were really juicy, good dramatic characters and a good central relationship that was like, Wow, I get to do that, plus play around with all these other ideas from the story.
Once you’d signed on, was there anything that you knew that you wanted to avoid, knowing what you did about the story?
Yeah. For example, the sexual allegations. It just seemed to me that that was — you know, sadly, I think, if you were to ask people if they know Julian Assange in America, that might be one of the first things that people mention: “Didn’t he rape somebody?” or something. So, it did seem like that was not a part of, first of all, this very limited story with a beginning, middle, end: this relationship between him and Daniel. But also, it’s sort of a distraction, I think. Which is not to say it’s not a real thing.
On the opposite end, in the process of making this movie, what was the thing you knew you wanted to do? Like, the result of saying to yourself, “If I’m going to do this movie, this is what I want to accomplish.”
I think it was Benedict recreating that disco scene in Iceland.
The Fifth Estate is out in cinemas this Friday, 11th October.