Sundance: 'Mike Wallace Is Here' Director Showcases "Vulnerable" Side of Legendary Journalist

Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival
'Mike Wallace Is Here'

“He was very insecure and was clinically depressed for many, many years and tried to commit suicide,” filmmaker Avi Belkin says of the late CBS anchor.

He was perhaps the toughest interviewer in the history of broadcast journalism. And yet Mike Wallace had a vulnerable side that few ever saw.

“He was very insecure and was clinically depressed for many, many years and tried to commit suicide,” says director Avi Belkin.

Thus represents the duality depicted in Belkin’s Sundance documentary Mike Wallace Is Here, which makes its world premiere Sunday at the Sundance Film Festival (CAA is selling rights to the film).

In tackling the life and six-decade career of the late 60 Minutes legend, Belkin received the blessing of CBS, which opened up its archives, giving the Israeli helmer access to never-before-seen raw footage of Wallace’s famed interviews.

“His craft is off the charts,” says Belkin. “Watching him work is unbelievable. He is so intense, so well prepared, so relentless in trying to get to the core of the person that he's sitting across from.”

Belkin also secured the Wallace family’s participation, including that of son Chris Wallace. The Fox News host, who will be on hand for the Park City bow, has given his thumbs-up.

“Chris loved the film,” Belkin says. “Chris and Mike had a rocky relationship throughout the years, and Mike admits in the film that he was an absentee father. But Chris talked about how he and Mike found each other in later years and got really, really close. And he was really emotional after the screening.”

As for debunking Mike Wallace’s tough-guy persona, Belkin says that is his favorite aspect of the film.

“That’s a beautiful statement — no matter what the public perception of a person is, we are all the same underneath,” he says. “Fragile and prone to turmoil.”

This story first appeared in the Jan. 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.