Wilson is in favor of 'War' effort

Inspiration for biopic soaks up Hollywood spotlight

Rep. Charlie Wilson of Texas had big dreams in the 1980s. He wanted to be a Congressman. He wanted to sit on a powerful committee. He wanted to help the mujahedeen of Afghanistan fight back when the Soviets invaded.

But never did Wilson imagine that Tom Hanks would be playing him in a major Hollywood movie.

"Not in my wildest dreams," Wilson told the Beaumont (Texas) Enterprise in a recent interview.

In the Universal release, Hanks portrays a womanizing boozehound who uses his position on a military appropriations subcommittee to secretly funnel $1 billion-plus in aid to the mujahedeen in the $75 million film directed by Mike Nichols and written for the screen by Aaron Sorkin.

"I didn't think anybody would be playing me in a movie, but certainly not the most famous movie star in the world." Wilson said. He thinks the movie "got a lot right."

"There were certain sins of omission, but that will always occur when you're trying to take 90 minutes out of a book. To cover all the important scenes would take four hours. The screenwriter did a great job in condensing it," Wilson said.

Hanks made him look "better than I really am," Wilson said. "He didn't quite have my cocky edge, but I suppose that was flattering. That edge becomes a little less cocky as the years go by."

Wilson, who often courted the limelight, nonetheless was surprised when the spotlight hit him on the red carpet at the premiere Dec. 10 at Universal CityWalk.

"I figured it would be the movie stars to get all the attention. Bob Woodruff came down here yesterday for ABC and did an hour-and-a-half interview," Wilson said. "I've turned down a lot of interviews. In a couple of weeks, I'll probably be calling them. There is nothing an old politician likes better than a little attention."

Wilson, who often proved how smart he was by playing dumb when it suited his ambitions, said he has a new respect for actors.

"I learned on the set that movie stars are really, really smart people, especially Tom and Julia (Roberts) and Seymour (Philip Seymour Hoffman)," he said. "I already had a high regard for them. I am amazed at their breadth. Tom Hanks is a very studious historian.

"I enjoyed every minute of it. As I've said before, making that movie was the most fun I've ever had. Those who know me know that covers a lot of territory."

Reliving days filled with heightened emotions and subterfuge brought back "poignant" memories for Wilson.

"The courage of the Afghans, the horrors of the refugee camps and the desperation of the field hospitals where we tried to take care of the children -- it was all very moving and very emotional," Wilson said.

If he had his life to live over, would he change anything?

"I can't think of anything," he said. "I can think of a lot of things that could have been done a better way. As a whole, I've been a lucky guy. Reckless enough to have had a good time, but not so reckless that I wound up in jail."