"Frost/Nixon" opens today and is earning rave reviews, (see today's NYT, NYP and NYDN as examples) especially for Frank Langella and Michael Sheen, who reprise their roles from the stage version as Richard Nixon and David Frost battling it out in 1977's historic interview. Sam Rockwell, Kevin Bacon, Toby Jones, Oliver Platt, and Rebecca Hall also costar.
Originally a play penned by Peter Morgan while he waited to make "The Queen," the film is directed by Ron Howard, who saw it onstage in London and went after securing the rights. In the end the film was jointly produced by Howard's Imagine Entertainment partner Brian Grazer and Working Title's Eric Fellner.
Before Thanksgiving, Huffington Post had a chance to talk Grazer about Nixon, the Bush Administration, what he does as a producer, and even his hair. Below is some of what he had to say.
What's your memory of Nixon resigning?
I remember him resigning. I remember the feeling of that. It's sort of empty. On one hand we really resented him. We disapproved of him. On the other hand it was sort of an emptiness within our political system. I guess I felt sad by it. I didn't feel triumphant, I felt sad.
Would you want Bush to be interviewed like this?
I really wish Bush would be interviewed. I just feel like Bush caused us so much more damage. Nixon was someone who had a gigantic flaw. He was a bully, an emotionally impenetrable man that was president of our country, with a gigantic flaw. A flaw like a handicap.
Bush on the other hand has caused us so much political, social, financial and cultural damage.
What news do you watch?
I like BBC news, I like some London news because you can get it earlier then anywhere else. I like Charlie Rose a lot.
What is your role in producing a movie like this, with Ron Howard finding the material and Working Title co-producing?:
With Ron Howard, we've been partners so long. He's made every movie with me. On this movie I would be, I guess, taste. The basic judgment of taste from the very beginning when he said he wanted to direct it.
If I didn't believe in it.... You know, believing in it means the subject and qualitatively. Is the writing good? Just, all those issues of taste and judgment and instinct. I am probably involved with that and I am partners with that decision. And of course involved with the casting of every role. Eric Fellner worked on this with me. Working on the script - Ron did a lot of that himself, and spent a lot of time with Peter Morgan, more than Eric or myself.
On fictionalizing a historic event:
Our job was to work closely with Peter Morgan, the playwright and screenwriter, and adhere to his truth. We are trying to convert a play into a film. The fact that there are factual events is secondary to what our overall, or our primary, intention is.
It is not a documentary.
Do you have any regrets about films you've made?
I mostly don't have a lot of regrets with the movies the last six or seven years. Comedies are very hard. I've learned a lot. You have to trust yourself, not research. Not testing. Testing helps, but you have to trust your own taste. If your taste says something isn't any good, don't let research rationalize that out of its own truth.
How do you do your hair?
It's not much of an ordeal. It happened by accident by my daughter who was 12 years old at the time. She just popped it up and was like, 'I like your hair that way,' and I kept the accident alive and it became my hairdo.
Do you still have a cultural attache?
That was sort of a joke title. I've been out meeting different people, I have a record, for 24 years, of meeting someone every two weeks. It helps inform your filter and hopefully informs your taste. I don't have anyone that's doing that for me right now. I use a couple of my assistants and I just say 'hey, can I meet so-and-so' and then we work on it or I'll call them myself, but I don't have a person that does that any longer.
Is there someone you next want to meet?
I just got emailed someone, a fixer like the character that Jodie Foster played in "Inside Man," a political fixer. I want to meet her. I just met this guy, a geneticist that wrote a book about the mirroring gene that creates empathy. So, the more this gene exists within your chromosomes, the greater ability to mirror. It's why it's difficult for people that are autistic to, ah, they're socially disabled because they don't have that gene.
Have you done a genetic test, like 23andMe?
I believe in it a lot, and I wanted to. I really wanted to. And then I read that someone tested and they had a 20-60% chance of Parkinson's, and that's too wide a gap for me. I'd feel like, 'Oh god! I've got it!'
If it's that wide, I don't want to know.