Jon Hamm, Annette Bening, and Adam Driver spoke about their characters in The Report during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.
Solzy at the Movies was one of a number of outlets to attend the press conference in September. I first saw The Report during Sundance and it’s an important film with regards for American history. In addition to the three actors, they were joined by writer-director Scott Z. Burns, producer Jennifer Fox, and former Senate Intelligence Staffer Daniel L. Jones.
Before getting into my question, I started off with a “Go Cards” for fellow St. Louis Cardinals fan Jon Hamm. As for my question, it was about what was it about the screenplay that attracted them to their characters.
Jon Hamm: The screenplay attracted me to my character in the screenplay. Scott wrote a phenomenal story about this thing that happened to all of us—as citizens of the United States—and he wrote it in such a way that made it understandable, dramatic, and terrifying in a way. For me, it was an exciting opportunity to work on a project that has real life repercussions and also resonates with the current political climate and the fact that we seem to be living in an accountability-free zone. And to be reminded—to be a part of a story that reminds you that there are systems put in place to hold people accountable. When they work, they work. When people like Dan do their jobs and tell the truth, and when people like Dianne Feinstein does her job and gets it out there—well, people actually get to know the truth.
My character, in particular, has to kind of navigate this nether space in between both administrations, and has to sort of say, Well, okay, this happened, it wasn’t under our watch but it still happened. That doesn’t mean we can ignore it. Somebody lights a fire in your house—well, the previous owner did that. I don’t give a shit—it’s still a fire, you have to put it out. So that’s what attracted me to playing his guy who was going, Okay, I gotta do this, I gotta get this guy happy and I gotta get this guy happy. He was spinning plates but you’re dealing with the problem that’s in front of you. That’s what I thought was fascinating about it.
Annette Bening: Well, read it and just immediately thought it was an excellent story and an important story to tell, and a privilege to do. Because often, as actors, we’re asked to take political positions on the things and just shine a spotlight on the issues that are important. And sometime—I should just speak for myself—sometimes, I choose to do that and sometimes, I don’t. This is the best thing we can do as actors as fortunate enough to be a part of something like this that really does have something to say. Like Jon just said, it’s a very important piece of our history as Americans that we need to be reminded of. The right thing did happen to a degree. Nobody went to jail, sadly, but there are a lot of important things in the film that I hope people will be reminded of that maybe they’ve forgotten even though it just happened so it’s really an honor to be part of it.
Adam Driver: Yeah, I don’t know what I would say different from what they kind of said in that it felt like a rare opportunity to as I was also saying earlier when I was talking to Scott, I remember thinking I had such a layman’s understanding of that event when it happened and just assumed it was out of my own ignorance, which it probably was that I didn’t know more details or I didn’t know to the depth of which how many moving pieces involved in the level of kind of people pushing a wrong agenda. He was kind of telling me that “No, actually, when this report came out, and there wasn’t a talking head or a physical person that you could look at to represent what the report embodied.” But there was a lot of people in the opposition or looked at it as a partisan issue that were more than eager to say that how it was wrong when the print coverage of it actually was pretty fair and balanced as I understand from Scott. Dianne Feinstein didn’t do it. Dan, as a Senate staffer, couldn’t be the person to kind of plant his flag publicly and kind of make this statement—it goes against what I was kind of saying earlier about the decorum of being as a staffer. This seemed like an amazing opportunity to present something that was, again, fair and balanced about a black eye and how we identify as a country morally within ourselves and as a country overall that it just seemed like maybe this could be a piece of that representing what actually happened.