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The making of 'She Said': 'We all feel like we don't want to give Harvey any more airtime'

There was a photo before The New York Times published its first story on Harvey Weinstein’s systemic sexual harassment. Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor were there with their editors at the paper. Gathered in front of a computer, they read the story at the end, waiting to press a button that would change not just Hollywood but the world, sparking a movement that jumped from country to country. She Said Screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz saw this photo at the moment, the composition is a bit like Washington crossing Delaware meets The Last Supper , and she knows it must be a pivotal moment in the movie. “For me, it became this iconic image,” she said. The film she would go on to write about the now-famous journalists whose Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation pulled off the downfall of Hollywood’s most feared man and reignited Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement doesn’t actually deal with any of these consequences. Instead, it spends over two hours on the work that led to it.

She Said Based on the book of the same name, Twohey and Kantor begin to receive tips about Weinstein’s abuse After the story, track them down at 2006 and

professional and personal life as they become more and more More and more the system that keeps filmmakers in power is found despite decades of whispers (and not just whispers). Plan B Entertainment President Dede Gardner read the Times article (“Harvey Weinstein Paid Decades of Sexual Harassment Allegations”) like no one else when it was published on Oct. 5, —but she immediately looked at its signature. She reached out to reporters who were fielding calls from multiple filmmakers interested in the rights to their stories, but who remained entrenched in reporting follow-ups to the original investigation, focusing on issues of complicity and support. system, the idea of ​​a movie feels as theoretical as holding Weinstein accountable. “I was like, ‘Of course, let’s take a few minutes to start by actually investigating the filmmakers and talking about this still distant idea that a movie could be made based on this,'” Kantor recalls with a laugh.

Gardner and her partners at Plan B won thanks to bringing sensitive stories—such as Moonlight— — onto the screen and their obvious interest in prioritizing accuracy and completeness in the retelling. By Playwright Renkiewicz recently penned the screenplay for Sebastián Lelio’s Disobedience, about a teenage drama by Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams. McAdams about a lesbian couple in an Orthodox Jewish community. “I’ve read the [Times] article and been to the Women’s March, so this topic was very powerful for me,” Lenkiewicz said of Gardner’s offer to write the script When said investigation. She said yes almost immediately, and began informally interviewing Kantor and Toohey—from phone conversations about their reporting process to pancake breakfasts at Tuhey’s Brooklyn home. All the while, both journalists were working on what would become She Said manuscript, supplementing Lenkiewicz’s chapters as they came in. “The book felt like a life raft [in the writing process],” Lenkiewicz said. “It’s like swimming in the ocean and all of a sudden, a boat appears.”

“We shot the Times newsroom scenes when the building was empty because of the pandemic,” says Kazan. “Going into the building, it was like everyone had been raptured.”

“We filmed the Times newsroom scene while the building was still under construction due to Pandemic and empty,” Kazan said. “Walking into the building, it was like everyone was raptured.” By Courtesy of Jojo Whilden/Universal Pictures

She Said is somehow a A traditional newspaper thriller. The reporters secretly met with the sources, who were followed by the mysterious SUV (which we now know to be ex-Mossad operatives Weinstein hired to track down the actresses and reporters he suspected could unmask him), and noted Times staff were vaguely concerned that what happened to these women might never be published. But in stark contrast to All the President’s Men or more recently Spotlight, the personal lives of the women who investigated the incident were given difficult Confidence focuses on the story and the survivors who make it possible. Directed by Mulligan, as Twohey, interrogates Weinstein adviser Lanny Davis (played by Succession’s Peter Friedman) about payouts to women in the Times cafeteria. “A part of her really relished taking on these men,” she says of how she approached portraying the reporter. Maria Schrader , fresh off the huge success of her Netflix miniseries joined the project after) unorthodox, relying on the on-screen vulnerability and intimacy she honed on that project. Kantor and Twohey answer phones while packing lunch boxes, they do research after putting the kids to bed, and they coordinate childcare with their husbands before they go on reporting trips. Survivors – Laura Madden, Rowena Chiu and Zelda Perkins feature prominently – are given full backstories . We see them as bright-eyed girls entering their dream jobs, and middle-aged women embarking on another life after Weinstein took everything from them. “I tried to give each character as much complexity as possible, seeing each of them as a potential protagonist for their own film,” says Schrader. “I don’t want anyone to be a courier to help the story go.”

Mulligan as Twohey interrogates Weinstein consultant Lanny Davis (Succession’s Peter Friedman) About what the Times Cafeteria pays women. “Part of her really enjoys being around these men,” she said of how she played the reporter. Courtesy of Jojo Whilden/Universal Pictures

The process actually started with Lenkiewicz writing the script. She gave each of the women in Kantor and Twohey’s oeuvre—named and unnamed—the chance to decide the extent of their participation in the project. Ashley Judd tells the story of the original Times as she recounts Weinstein’s attack on her, and she chooses to play herself in the film. “I knew she thought it through,” the writer said. “She was very brave to speak out, and having suffered a huge loss in her career because of Weinstein, I think there was a sense of healing in the film and finding her own voice.” Lenkiewicz went on to say something Form a world tour to meet other survivors. She met Madden, who was first attacked by Weinstein in Dublin 75s, at home in Wales. Perkins, who has tried to reduce Weinstein’s abuse through the terms of the Miramax spin-off agreement, and is now campaigning against the use of non-disclosure agreements — in a lengthy conversation in London’s Hyde Park (“She’s very Motivated,” Runkiewicz said). She also met Chiu in London – Chiu wasn’t ready to go public when initially Times reported, but was described by She Said on record Her book of attempted rape. “I can see it’s painful for her, but it’s also important that the truth continues to come out,” Lenkiewicz said. “Ultimately, through all the survivor storylines, I wanted to show the audience that what happens to one woman overnight [can] have a lifelong impact.”

When the film made People with their studio backers at Universal looking for their on-screen Jody and Megan in the spring of

, close friend Mulligan, as Twohey, interrogates Weinstein adviser Lanny Davis (played by Succession’s Peter Friedman) about payouts to women in the Times cafeteria. “A part of her really relished taking on these men,” she says of how she approached portraying the reporter. Zoe Kazan and “Carey and Zoe embody the spirit of Megan and Jodi so well,” says screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz. “I know that both journalists were hugely excited by them.” Carey Mulligan has been trying for years to find a project to work on again. They have all been in 600 Broadway productions The Seagull, Mulligan in 2017 of Wildlife, co-written by Kazan and her behind-the-scenes partner Paul Dano. When they each received the script in the spring of 2018, they Can’t believe their luck. They’ve all been closely following the aftermath of the Times story and its impact on the #MeToo movement that began with Gives a voice to survivors of sexual violence; the hashtag has regained popularity after the Weinstein exposure. “I remember when this piece broke into the 2006 , my first thought was, ‘I wonder if this matters,'” Kazan said. “He seemed so indestructible. It felt like he had a whole patriarchal history behind him.” When the character came to Kazan, she read the book immediately and was drawn to the specifics of their investigative work (“I’m a Nerds, I love paperwork stories,” she laughs).

From left: Director Maria Schrader on set in New York City with Mulligan and Kazan.

“Carey and Zoe embody Meghan and Jody very well,” says screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz. “I know both journalists are very excited about them.”

Courtesy of Jojo Whilden /Universal Pictures

Mulligan from the press conference of Promising Young Woman Up and down, the film feels like it’s speaking to the post-Weinstein #MeToo movement — the revenge fantasy of women at the end of the patriarchal ropes. “My normal instinct is to get as far away as possible from what I’ve just done,” she said, explaining that it was Meghan’s personality that attracted her. “I can’t fathom how Megan has the power to be able to call someone up in the middle of the day, bring up the most damaging thing that could have happened to them, and then ask to hear that story. Hooked me up because I love playing people I don’t know initially.”

She Said No need to imitate real life Journalists — it’s not a biopic — but Kazan and Mulligan are emphatically about getting to know their peers. Mulligan and Twohey first met on Zoom, and because of their shared experience with postpartum depression (Twohey appears in the film), they quickly bonded and started dating after Mulligan and her family moved to New York to film . Kantor and Kazan, both Brooklynites, had dinner and “a lot of phone calls” and found out they shared a preschool and a baker, Kazan said. “What Zoe does on screen is share emotions [about the work] that I never thought other people would understand,” Kantor said. Actresses also had to work to break free from close friendships. The two journalists were near strangers before the Weinstein investigation began, and neither was sure that their partnership was a good fit. “Zoe was my maid of honor at the wedding,” Mulligan recalls with a warm smile. “We had to figure out what it would be like not to click right away.”

“Carey and Zoe embody the spirit of Megan and Jodi so well,” says screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz. “I know that both journalists were hugely excited by them.”

From left: Director Maria Schrader with Mulligan and Kazan in New York City. Courtesy of Jojo Whilden/Universal Pictures

Production starts in August 2022, the team loaded the scene in front of the New York Times building in anticipation of the imminent post-COVID return to the office (eventually delayed again in response to the omicron outbreak); Kantor and Twohey due to COVID Agreement and their investigative work without coming to the scene, they have not been to the command glass tower in the west 16th Street for a year and a half. “It was like everyone was ecstatic,” Kazan said of walking in for the first time. “People’s decorations for Valentine’s Day 2016 on their desks On.”

As glorious as a well-budgeted studio film about one of the world’s most famous newspapers is, there is a heaviness to the process. Kantor and Twohey carried the horrors experienced by the survivors as they worked their way to publication, and the actors shared the same grief, Kazan said, thanks to being able to focus on parenting. She can bear this grief. She was filming She Said while Dano produced Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans and was flying all over the country to see them hobble Toddler daughter or work online after bedtime. “It’s your brain as a mother,” she said. “Jodi would talk to me about coming home to see her daughter while they were reporting, and feeling her innocence, and that’s how I felt. It made me have to leave work to be with her.”

“We shot the Times newsroom scenes when the building was empty because of the pandemic,” says Kazan. “Going into the building, it was like everyone had been raptured.”

Former New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet, editor Rebecca Corbett and reporters Twohey and Kantor pore over a final version of their Harvey Weinstein investigation.

“I love playing people who I don’t understand at first,” says Mulligan (left, with Schrader). Courtesy of Jojo Whilden/Universal Pictures

Mulligan turns around, mostly grateful. “When you make a film like this, you pay a lot of attention to people who don’t have the wealth that I have, and that wealth will come through this industry — and this life — relatively unscathed,” she said. “For me it’s faking, but for a lot of people it’s not faking.” She’s also inspired by the way her off-screen counterparts approach the job, which Mulligan describes as gamemanship: enjoying taking on the bad guys Opportunity. She recalls a specific scene in the film in which Twohey asks Weinstein’s legal counsel, Lanny Davis (played by Succession‘s Peter Friedman), about Weinstein Amount paid to women. “It felt like a chess game — she wanted the opportunity to come to him without self-doubt, and she got a kick out of getting him to admit the truth,” she said. “It’s fun to play.”

Cinematographer Natasha Braier. Courtesy of Jojo Whilden/Universal Pictures

Of course, there is an elephant in the room, and his name is Harvey Weinstein. October 5th, , It’s about him—his sexual perversion, his criminal behavior, his willingness to go to great lengths not only to hold power but to perpetuate the abuse—but the film clearly isn’t. This movie is about women. Weinstein is a character briefly seen from the back of his head, but he is never fully depicted. She Said also includes an entire conversation recorded by the NYPD between the producer and Ambra Battilana Gutierrez in his She wore wires to talk to him the day after he attacked her in the hotel room. Director of Photography Natasha Braier’s steady shot across the four floors of the luxury hotel, with doors shut, is a metaphor for the horrific acts that take place in these densely populated places. “We all felt like we didn’t want Harvey to have more airtime than he deserved, but we wanted people to actually hear how he treats women,” said Lenkiewicz. Schrader added that the studio allowed long scenes to be dedicated to Used in a lengthy description of a survivor, this feels revolutionary: “I’m grateful to have this space for women who come forward, it allows us to explore issues like this more deeply” As a man in a male-dominated world What does it mean to be a woman growing up in middle school? ’ and ‘Is it possible to change the world you were born into? “”

Cinematographer Natasha Braier.

Kantor (Kazan, right) on the set with Weinstein Co. Lieutenant Owen Wright (Zach Grenier), after he hands over a A copy of the damning memo, written by junior executive Lauren O’Connor, preceded the investigation into times as it turned out. Courtesy of Jojo Whilden/Universal Pictures

As She Said was in the final stages of editing, the filmmakers invited Twohey and Kantor and their husbands to watch An early cut. As the credits roll, Kantor checks her phone, and she sees a push notification informing her that Roe v. Wade has been overturned. She was interviewed by THR for this story on the morning of the midterm elections, a day when women’s rights were subject to further lawsuits – in many cases by men. It was a strange feeling, she agreed, to release a book about your work into a world that has revolutionized itself, allowing women’s stories to be heard and punishing bad men, and then releasing a movie two years later Enter an environment where you don’t feel it. But Kantor wants viewers to know that even in the toughest of times, she finds her reporting work energized; Twohey hopes the film will have the same impact on viewers. Mulligan and Kazan see She Said as a love letter to the power of investigative journalism; Lenkiewicz sees the film as proof that women work together. “These are challenging times, and it’s important for people to focus on the extraordinary,” she said, “and find strength in that.”

“We shot the Times newsroom scenes when the building was empty because of the pandemic,” says Kazan. “Going into the building, it was like everyone had been raptured.”

2021“We shot the Times newsroom scenes when the building was empty because of the pandemic,” says Kazan. “Going into the building, it was like everyone had been raptured.”

FormerNew York Times executive editor Dean Baquet, editor Rebecca Corbett, and reporters Twohey and Kantor pored over their take on the Harvey Weinstein investigation final version. by Susanne Craig

This story first appeared in November 16 Issue of The Hollywood Reporter Magazine. 2021Click here to subscribe.

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