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Months ahead of its release, Zero Dark Thirty became the target of controversy, with accusations flying that the CIA gave filmmakers Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal special access to classified documents regarding the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
Documents obtained by the conservative group Judicial Watch over the summer revealed the CIA’s public information office had joked about receiving free tickets to the premiere and compared helping the filmmakers to betting on “the winning horse” — namely the film about bin Laden that had “the most money behind it, and two Oscar winners on board.”
Critics argued the Obama administration was cooperating with the production as a way to boost his chances of re-election, and others speculated the administration had leaked classified documents to the filmmakers.
Boal, who won two Oscars (as writer and producer) on Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker, opened up about the CIA’s role in the film while attending THR’s writer’s roundtable. Asked if the CIA read the script, or if they had any rights of approval, Boal said, “We made the movie independently.”
“When you make a movie with a studio, and it involves the military, there’s some give and take creatively. We decided to forgo all that — forgo the helicopters, forgo the bases — and make the movie in the Middle East without any sort of government involvement. So there was no official government vetting.”
He was also asked if the terrorist leader will be shown in the film.
“It’s an interesting creative choice, and I would love to have this conversation with you after you’ve seen the movie,” he said.
THR’s executive editor Stephen Galloway and News Editor Matthew Belloni moderated a conversation at The Residences at the W Hollywood with Boal, Judd Apatow (This is 40), Michael Haneke (Amour), Chris Terrio (Argo), David Magee (Life of Pi) and John Krasinski (Promised Land).
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