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Liman at Fair Game press conference: "This is a step up for me"

Doug Liman presented his In Competition film Fair Game,starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn, Thursday morning. The press conferencefollowing the screening addressed the true story of scandal, truth and lies of US spies Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson. Fair Game marks the third time Watts and Pennhave worked together, and she expressed her relief when she learned she’dbe playing alongside her longtime friend. “Everytime he’s infront of me, Ielevate my game to match his,” Watts said.

Liman emphasized the many aspects of his movie and his hopesof creating a truly unique piece of cinema. “Viewers may ask themselves: Isthis a political movie? A drama? A love story? It’s all of those things,” Limanexplained. “Fair Game is a film that sort of evolves.”

The story, which follows married American spies, ValeriePlame and Joe Wilson, strives to unmask the complicated, emotionally taxinglives of covert spies in this day and age. Liman felt this film was a “step up”for him, stating that this is the first film where he feels he’s reallyrealized his vision.

 

“My goal is to come up with films that are both entertainingand meaningful, which I haven’t always been successful at in the past,” Liman confessed.“Bourne Identity was supposed to be about Iran Contra, but the American peopledidn’t get it. When I did The OC, I planned to hook in teens, and then introducereal political issues, like immigration reform, but FOX said no. This is thefirst time I’ve been able to really deal with these issues.”

Watts revealed the complicated process of becoming ValeriePlame, including attending spy boot camp as well as multiple meetings with thereal Plame. “It was important for me to get the essence of who she is,” Wattssaid. “The closer I got to her, which took some time because she’s a fiercely privateperson, I was able to unveil many secrets. I found her so incredibly inspiring,how she dealt with this massive change in her life.” 

Though Penn is not in Cannes to present his film, Limananswered questions regarding the process of directing his leading man. “SeanPenn is probably the greatest living actor,” Liman declared. “Watching him workwas unlike anything I’d ever seen before. He’d hang out with Joe Wilson, andevery day he’d become more like him. It was like watching a horror movie; thepersonality of Joe was being sucked out, and going into Sean!”

 

Liman, as well as screenwriter Jez Butterworth, continuallyclarified that the Fair Game is meant to first and foremost tell the story ofthe extraordinary character of Plame and Wilson above the political aspects ofthe film.

Lauren Ellison 

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