Watch: She Said director Maria Schrader praises the New York Times
In October 2017, New York Times journalists Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor revealed a catalogue of sexual abuse allegations against the movie producer, which had long been rumoured but not confirmed.
The inside story of their investigation was the subject of their Pullitzer Prize winning book, which forms the basis of the film (in UK cinemas from 25 November).
With a search for the truth at the heart of the story, Schrader believed it was crucial the film should be as realistic as possible. And the New York Times itself came on board.
“It was a deliberate choice of all of us on the creative team to stick to the truth in our moviemaking and show as much as we could,” Schrader told Yahoo.
“The New York Times opened their newsroom for us for the first time. It’s where Jodi and Megan work, it’s where the story came about. You want to achieve an accurate and realistic portrait of that workplace.”
The film includes sequences in the newspapers offices, including telephone conversations between Senior editor Dean Baquet (played by Brooklyn 99’s Andre Braugher) and Weinstein, as well as the crucial moment when the feature was published and put the treatment of women in Hollywood in the full glare of the spotlight.
Schrader says that using the newspaper’s offices also allowed her to show a contrasting working environment. “It was a fantastic opportunity to portray a different kind of workplace than the one they investigate at Harvey Weinstein’s company. Dean Baquet, the chief editor, is also at the top of a hierarchy with hundreds of employees, but conducts it so differently.”
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She remembers that when Twohey and Kantor’s story broke, she knew nothing about its background, only discovering it when she received the script for the film.
“I didn’t know how that story came about and who these two journalists, Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, were. I hadn’t heard of them and didn’t know how it all started, why they as employees of the New York Times, would start investigating something that took them into Hollywood and started them investigating sexual assault and Harvey Weinstein.
“It was incredibly exhilarating and suspenseful to learn all these details about their work, their setbacks and successes. And then the conscious decision to tell the story from their perspective was wonderful, as well as the perspective of the very few, brave women who dared to share their personal stories with them.”
While survivors Laura Madden and Zelda Perkins are played respectively in the movie by Jennifer Ehle and Samantha Morton, actress Ashley Judd decided to play herself, appearing in several scenes.
Already tipped as an awards contender, She Said also stars Carey Mulligan as Twohey and Zoe Kazan as Kantor. It sees Schrader directing in the English language for the first time. Her previous movie, German comedy I’m Your Man, was nominated for the Golden Bear at last year’s Berlin Film Festival.
She Said is released in cinemas on 25 November. Watch a trailer below.