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FROST/NIXON

About The Production
Morgan's play Frost/Nixon premiered at London's Donmar Warehouse on August 10, 2006, under the direction of Michael Grandage. One of the country's leading theater critics, Benedict Nightingale of The London Times, praised, "Welcome to Michael Grandage's absorbing production of a play that last night did two unexpected things. It showed David Frost shedding his genial, tabby-cat image, finding his claws and becoming as tigerish as any Humphrys or Paxman. And it managed to win a little sympathy for his unlovable prey, Richard Nixon…As often with docudrama, you're not sure how far Frost/Nixon is to be trusted, but there can surely be no doubting the authenticity and power of its climax…Factual, fictional, it makes for riveting drama.”

Cast as Richard Nixon and David Frost for Morgan's play were Frank Langella and Michael Sheen, respectively. The two men created their roles in the production's widely honored debut in London's West End and revisited their work on Broadway. For his portrayal of the president, Langella would be lauded with the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play. These actors had grown intimately familiar with the affectations and eccentricities of their historical characters. Just as importantly, they had studied the relationship that formed between their counterparts during their brief, intense on-air interactions.

Of utmost significance to the project was the endorsement of Sir David Frost. Naturally, the journalist had rights to the interviews and any creative interpretation of them, including the stage play. But to ensure Frost/Nixon was seen as a dramatized event, not an authorized biography/documentary, Frost agreed that he would not have editorial control of the content. Rather, he was asked to provide guidance of the actual events and historical reference. He admits he was quite satisfied with the results.

Frost was most concerned that the story not be a verbatim replaying of the events but one in which the story was told fairly. He reflects on the first time he saw Sheen portray him: "For about 20 minutes, it was rather odd watching someone play you. And then I really started to think of it not as me but as the Frost character. Because I was more interested in the content and wanting to see that the content was done justice.”

The journey that would turn this stage play into a screenplay began when two American filmmakers went to the West End to see Morgan's work. "I think it all started on the second preview of the play in London, when one particular director and producer just saw it and they immediately rang up, and this escalation of interest happened.

Everybody seemed sure it would make a film,” recalls Morgan. He initially believed Frost/Nixon, however, would never translate into a script. "I'd written screenplays, and I'd done my best to write this in a way that it could never be adapted. I'd done things that I thought were so theatrical it would condemn it to a theatrical life, and that's what I wanted.”

The author's best-laid plans, in this effort, went gratefully astray.

The filmmakers who propositioned Morgan about adapting his play were Ron Howard and Brian Grazer of Imagine Entertainment, partnering with Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner of Working Title Films in a deal that bested a number of directors and producers eager to option the project. The four were impressed with "the character-driven story that's all about the intensity of the conflict between these two men,” says Howard. Of his excitement for the material, Howard explains, "While these interviews were watched by millions of people all over the world, the real drama of this event was a dynamic between the two men that very few people understood. It was a battle of wits in which each man was fighting for his professional life and only one could walk away the winner. It came down to the ev

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