Michael Bay Talks About His Benghazi Film: "There Is No Political Agenda"

Michael Bay
AP Images

The director also recalls having to "thoroughly beg" Paramount for more money.

Director Michael Bay insists his upcoming Benghazi film 13 Hours not political and is not being strategically released in an election year.

During a press conference at the Deauville Film Festival, Bay, who is being honored with a career tribute, was asked by The Hollywood Reporter if the film had a specific point of view. “No. No, there is no political agenda,” he said emphatically.

The film is about the September 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. Based on journalist Mitchell Zuckhoff’s book 13 Hours: A Firsthand Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi, it focuses on the security team that attempted a rescue of American ambassador Christopher Stephens.

Asked how it approaches the “stand down” order that was debunked by the investigating Congressional committee, Bay said: “It does deal with the stand down order, but I show both sides of the story. I met with the CIA on this movie and I show the whole situation.”

He said his approach was more thorough than what you will see on television. “You don’t hear it on the talking points on the news. This is a much more in-depth look at what’s going on inside that CIA base, and it shows it from both sides,” he said.

When the trailer was released in July, people from both parties used it to score political points. Republicans touted it as supporting the “stand down” order theory that was debunked by the investigating Congressional committee, and Democrats said it was being used as a piece of propaganda by Fox News.

The film stars John Krasinski, Pablo Schreiber, Toby Stephens, David Giuntoli, James Badge Dale, Max Martini and David Costabile. While there are some familiar faces amongst the cast, Krasinski is probably best known, and mostly for his comedy.

Bay said an unnamed A-lister wanted to join the cast, but he went with unknowns. "A very big superstar was interested in doing this movie," he said. "I met with that person and because it’s a true story I wanted it to be really, really present for the audience, very visceral. It would be very different with a movie star."

Frequent producing partner Jerry Bruckheimer advised him against the star. “He told me don’t go with the movie star. Go with people that are great actors and that have no baggage and it can be a much more effective movie," explained Bay. "I’m really glad I went with this cast."

Even with his track record, when the film went over budget, he had trouble securing extra cash. “I’m someone who has made Paramount Pictures billions of dollars,” he said, noting the irony. “I had to beg for $10 million more, thoroughly beg. As they were putting my name on a street sign at Paramount Studios - I was in the executive’s office, and they were hanging my name, I guess because I’ve made them so much money - I had to beg."

13 Hours is scheduled to be released in the U.S. on Jan. 15.

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