Kathryn Bigelow Talks Zero Dark Thirty

Posted on August 6, 2012
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The tense trailer came out earlier in the day, and now Director Kathryn Bigelow wants to answer a few questions.

The film, Zero Dark Thirty is a drama about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, that has been the subject to scrutiny for months, all the while very much kept under wraps.

Now Bigelow, and writer Mark Boal who both worked on The Hurt Locker, talk about the script, politics, and real life effect of this film.

May 2nd, 2011 was the night when President Obama told the world that they have rid the evil that was Osama bin Laden. According to Bigelow and Boal, they said a script was done for this type of a film by then before bin Laden was killed. That script followed a 2001 siege in the mountains of Tora Bora, where intelligence officials believed bin Laden was hiding before he escaped and essentially became a ghost.

In a discussion with EW, Bigelow talked about how the real-life events affected their project:

“The minute we heard the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed, what we had been working on became history. As interesting a story as that would have been to tell, the news re-directed our entire efforts. It changed the movie idea forever.”

Boal admitted that he got rid of the original script that focused on the 2001 incident once bin Laden was killed, but said the research he did and not gone to waste.Many of the contacts he had made carried over, and “the years spent talking to military and intelligence operators involved in counterterrorism” were helpful to Zero Dark Thiry.

With the added political controversy surrounding Zero Dark Thirty, it’s not exactly shocking that he and Bigelow are taking a “no comment” stance on some of the more specific questions, with Boal adding, “I’m going to protect my sources.”

Asked about the film’s politics, Boal adamantly states that there are none:

“There’s no political agenda in the film. Full stop. Period. A lot of people are going to be surprised when they see the film. For example, the president is not depicted in the movie. He’s just not in the movie.”

Boal’s stated goal with the pic was to find the human element to this decade-long manhunt:

“I was looking for the human component, and I was also looking for the untold story. You spend enough time looking at these stories and what’s out there is true but partial, incomplete. I was interested in the human element and I was interested in the element that had yet to be portrayed.”

In terms of who the actors will play this too has been kept hidden, until now. Joel and Nash Edgerton are playing members of SEAL Team Six, Kyle Chandler is the CIA’s top official in Pakistan and Mark Strong plays another CIA analyst, with Jessica Chastain,Jason Clarke, Edgar Ramirez, Harold Perrineau, Jennifer Ehle, and Mark Duplass portraying other intelligence agents.

Boal describes the cast of characters like this:

“It’s an ensemble of covert-ops teams — ground branch [field agents], case officers, spies, analysts, and operators.”

Bigelow wants people to know that Zero Dark Thirty can’t be filtered into one genre, and it’s more that entertainment:

“I guess you could call it many things. It’s a thriller, it’s a drama, it’s a mystery, it’s historical, it’s one of the great stories of our time. It traces the anatomy of the decade long hunt for the world’s most wanted man… This is an amazing story about the triumph of will, dedication, and duty. [It’s] about the real life heroes in the intelligence community who worked behind the scenes day and night on what was perhaps the toughest assignment of their lives. As such, it’s a story that needs to be told respectfully.”

Zero Dark Thirty opens on December 19th.