Video:Peter Morgan Interview - Frost/Nixonwith Rebecca Murray
Peter Morgan wrote 'Frost/Nixon' for the stage and never planned on penning the screenplay for a theatrical version. But Ron Howard's a persuasive man, and Morgan wound up joining with the Academy Award-winning filmmaker on the big screen adaptation.See Transcript
Transcript:Peter Morgan Interview - Frost/NixonRebecca Murray from About.com Hollywood Movies at the Los Angeles Premiere of Frost/Nixon.
Frost/Nixon Screenwriter/Executive Producer Peter MorganWhen they came to you to bring it to the screen, were you leery of that at all or did you jump in?
Peter Morgan: "I was leery at first… Well, I was actually a little more than that. I was a little upset because I had written it as a play and I was, you know, trying to prove my theatrical credentials because in London I was known as a screenwriter. And then within two days, within two performances, people were trying to make a movie out of it. I said, 'But I've been trying so hard. I want to join these guys for a bit.' But when it was Ron [Howard]…You know, I'd met with Ron on another project so we knew one another a little bit, so I was thrilled, really thrilled. Who wouldn't be?"
Were you able to explore and expand on things that you wanted to in the play in the first place?
Peter Morgan: "Not that I wanted... Because things that I wanted to explore but couldn't for the fact that they couldn't probably be explored on a confined stage. And so yes, we did a whole extra layer of research and so forth. There are a number of scenes… I mean I would have thought about 15, 20% of the movie is probably fresh."
Is it true that a lot of these people you didn't actually meet until you started working on the film?
Peter Morgan: "Most of them… On the East Coast, I could only afford a research trip to the East Coast. I couldn't afford both coasts. One always forgets Nixon's a Californian and so Nixon, you know, I hadn't been to Orange County. I hadn't been to Casa Pacifica and the Nixon Museum, or indeed Yorba Linda where he was born. So once I did all that, I really felt I knew both the character and the world a lot better."
How do you think they walked away at the end? Did they respect each other? Is that what you got out of it?
Peter Morgan: "Yeah, that's what I got out of it, talking not only to David Frost but also to a number… I think it was awkward. I think Richard Nixon didn't come off that well and I think for him it took a few years, after the dust had settled really, to reengage in any kind of public appearances or whatever. Frost went on of course as we know to have a long and successful career, although this sort of interview he never did again. He tried it with Kissinger and it didn't work at all."
Gabriel Jarret – 'Ken Khachigian' in Frost/NixonSo you play one of Nixon's guys in this?
Gabriel Jarret: "I play Ken Khachigian, Nixon's head speechwriter."
Did you talk to the real man? Is he still around?
Gabriel Jarret: "I talked to the real guy. It's the first time in my career that I've actually done that. He actually was the technical advisor and provided a lot of fantastic insight as an actor, for me to be able to talk to my character. So, yeah, I really enjoyed."
But was it daunting knowing that the real guy's around judging your performance?
Gabriel Jarret: "A little bit. A little bit and I'll tell you why. You kind of juggle with, 'Am I going to do a caricature? Am I going to do a rendition of him or am I going to just have his intent?' And that's what I went with. I think that's what Ron wanted and that's what we got. The result is, you know I saw the film in New York when it premiered last week and it looks great."
Did doing this movie change your opinion of Nixon?
Gabriel Jarret: "People asked me that in New York as well. No, it didn't change my opinion but it reaffirmed and gave me evidence to why I felt that way. And it's so awesome the amount of power that's thrown around without regard to the consequences that you're just kind of dumbstruck by it - and I was."