'Mark Felt' Premiere: Director Peter Landesman on the Real "Deep Throat," Relevance Today

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Peter Landesman, Brian d'Arcy James, Liam Neeson and Julian Morris

“This film is the other side of the looking glass, it’s not about the reporters,” Landesman said of 'Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House.'

Filmmaker Peter Landesman turns the tables in the story of Watergate, taking an in-depth look at the source of information (instead of the reporters behind it). 

Stars Liam Neeson, Brian d’Arcy James and Julian Morris graced the red carpet of the New York City premiere of the historical biopic Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House. 

“Democracy works. Investigative journalism works,” Neeson told THR at the Toronto International Film Festival in early September. “Investigative journalism, I think, was invented [during Watergate].”

The biographical drama, written and directed by Peter Landesman, first opened at TIFF with a star-studded cast including Neeson, who plays the former FBI associate director turned whistleblower, Diane Lane, Josh Lucas and more stars who transformed into the pivotal characters behind the unfolding of the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s.

But it's the timing of the film’s release that has the cast and audience alike intrigued. For Landesman, however, it was just a happy coincidence.

“I started to make the film in 2005, right after Felt came forward [ed. note: up until then, the identity of Deep Throat was unconfirmed], and then we got hit with the writers strike in 2008 and then, right before the Republican primaries in 2016, we wrapped,” Landesman said about the release date coinciding with ongoing federal investigations into the Trump administration and campaign. “It’s just supernatural relevance, it’s stupid. I wish I could take credit [for the timing]."

The film takes a turn from other biopic that have covered the significant moment in U.S. history, where President Richard Nixon was forced to resign due to the espionage and obstruction of justice he had overseen in order regain election for a second term. The FBI's findings were leaked to journalists at The Washington Post and Time Magazine by Felt, who was then known by the pseudonym “Deep Throat.”

Landesman, who also counts among his credits Concussion and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, describes this film as a reflection of the emotional man that Felt was and where those emotions led him. Other notable films, like the 1976 movie All the President’s Men, focus on the reporters who shed light on the scandal.

“This film is the other side of the looking glass; it’s not about the reporters,” Landesman said. “It’s actually about how Felt manipulated reporters, used reporters, to get different parts of the story out.”

One of those reporters was Bob Woodward, a then-staff writer at The Washington Post, who is played by Julian Morris in the film. “I took on [Woodward’s role] with great, reverent responsibility,” Morris said. “I wanted to show what it was like for a young, ambitious reporter to track down information that would ultimately bring down the government.”

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House hits theaters Sept. 29.

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