The Frost/Nixon Movie Notes

Introduction

In summer 1977, the televised David Frost/Richard Nixon interviews attracted the largest audience for a news program in the history of American TV. More than 45 million viewers- hungry for a glimpse into the mind of their disgraced former command-in-chief and anxious for him to acknowledge the abuses of power that led to his resignation- sat transfixed as Nixon and Frost sparred in a riveting verbal boxing match over the course of four evenings. Two men with everything to prove knew only one could come out a winner. Their legendary confrontation would revolutionize the art of the confessional interview, change the face of politics and capture an admission from the former president that startled people all over the world…possibly even including Nixon himself.

Now, Academy Award®-winning director RON HOWARD (A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man, Apollo 13) brings to the screen stage- and screenwriter PETER MORGAN’s (The Queen, The Last King of Scotland) electrifying dramatization of the battle between Richard Nixon (FRANK LANGELLA, Good Night, and Good Luck.), the disgraced president with a legacy to save, and David Frost (MICHAEL SHEEN, The Queen), a jet-setting featherweight television personality with a name to make, in the untold story of the historic encounter that changed both: Frost/Nixon. Re-creating not only the on-air interviews that captivated the nation, but weeks of around-the world, behind-the-scenes maneuvering and negotiations between the men and their opposing camps, the film explores the long-untold story that led to the ultimate face-off in the court of public opinion.

For three years after being forced from office, Nixon remained silent. But in 1977, the steely, cunning former commander-in-chief agreed to sit for one all-inclusive interview to confront the unanswered questions of his time in office and the Watergate scandal that ended his presidency. Nixon surprised everyone in selecting Frost as his televised confessor, intending to easily outfox the breezy British showman and reclaim his status as a supreme statesman in the hearts and minds of Americans.

Likewise, Frost’s team harbored doubts about his ability to hold his own against Nixon. As cameras rolled, a charged battle of wits ensued. Would Nixon evade questions of his role in one of the nation’s greatest disgraces? Or would Frost confound critics and bravely demand accountability from the most skilled politician of his generation? The encounter would reveal each man’s insecurities, ego and reserves of dignity-as each ultimately set aside posturing in a stunning display of unvarnished truth.

Playing a key role on Nixon’s team is KEVIN BACON (The Woodsman, Mystic River) as his chief of staff, Colonel Jack Brennan, the fierce guardian who guides Nixon through the strategy of the interviews. Two brilliant consultants would handle Frost’s education on the 37th American president. OLIVER PLATT (Casanova, Kinsey) stars as Frost strategist (and executive editor of the interviews), veteran reporter Bob Zelnick, and SAM ROCKWELL (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Matchstick Men) plays Frost’s acerbic writer and Nixon critic, author and university lecturer James Reston, Jr. Both were motivated to expose the real Nixon and operated as the architects of Frost’s strategy, while Frost took on the tasks of selling rights to the interviews, securing a broadcaster and studying his adversary.

Supporting players in the cast are a winning assemblage that includes REBECCA HALL (The Prestige) as Frost’s girlfriend, Caroline Cushing; TOBY JONES (Infamous, The Painted Veil) as Nixon’s agent, Irving Swifty Lazar; and MATTHEW MACFADYEN (Pride and Prejudice, Death at a Funeral) as Frost’s British producer, John Birt.

A Universal Pictures release, Frost/Nixon is the creative collaboration between Imagine Entertainment and Working Title Films, with Academy Award® winners BRIAN GRAZER (A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man) and Howard joining BAFTA winners TIM BEVAN (Atonement, United 93) and ERIC FELLNER (Pride & Prejudice, United 93) as producers of the drama.

On the technical side, the director has gathered a top-notch crew that reunites many Howard film regulars-including cinematographer SALVATORE TOTINO (Cinderella Man, The Da Vinci Code, The Missing), Oscar®-nominated production designer MICHAEL CORENBLITH (Apollo 13, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas); Emmy Award-winning costume designer DANIEL ORLANDI (Cinderella Man; The Da Vinci Code), Academy Award®-winning editing team MIKE HILL and DANIEL HANLEY (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man); and Oscar®-winning composer HANS ZIMMER (Backdraft, The Da Vinci Code).

The executive producers of the film are Peter Morgan, MATTHEW BYAM SHAW (Broadway and the West End’s Frost/Nixon), KAREN KEHELA SHERWOOD (Inside Man), DAVID BERNARDI (Friday Night Lights), DEBRA HAYWARD (Elizabeth: The Golden Age), LIZA CHASIN (Atonement) and TODD HALLOWELL (A Beautiful Mind).

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