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THE INFORMANT

About The Production
"Everyone in this country is a victim of corporate crime by the time they finish breakfast.”

"The Informant!” is a dark comedy about corporate espionage, multinational price fixing, wiretapping, embezzlement, FBI investigations and a high-level company whistleblower. What's so funny about that? In the hands of director Steven Soderbergh, pretty much everything.

The film follows the somewhat strange and unpredictable journey of Mark Whitacre from corporate golden boy to FBI informant in the years from 1992 to 1996. "The more I learned about the story, the more I responded to the material,” Soderbergh says. "But I knew there have been serious films done on similar subject matters by great filmmakers. I thought one way to do something distinctive was to play the irony of the situation. Everything fell into place once that decision was made.”

Matt Damon, who stars in the role of Mark Whitacre, observes, "It's like peeling an onion. You start with a certain set of assumptions and then realize you can't assume anything as the situation becomes utterly ridiculous. It's a great story and a really incredible character.”

The plot of "The Informant!” was first told in-depth in a book by Kurt Eichenwald, who also served as a producer on the movie. Screenwriter Scott Z.

Burns was introduced to the story when he heard an interview with Eichenwald on the radio. He remembers, "I was on my way to a brunch and I ended up driving around the restaurant for the entire hour. I went directly from there to buy the book and spent the rest of the day reading it.”

The screenwriter recalls that when he and Soderbergh first began talking about how to adapt the book, "Steven said he wanted to make it a comedy. At first I wasn't sure what to make of that, but as we started working on the script, I realized that most of the things that happened were pretty outrageous.”

Burns ultimately hit on the concept that became the key to finding the film's overriding humor. Soderbergh reveals, "It was Scott who came up with the idea of the voiceover. Once that happened, it was clear which direction the movie was going.”

Producer Gregory Jacobs affirms, "One of the amazing things Scott brought to the table was the idea of weaving in Mark Whitacre's inner monologue. Little by little it reveals what's going on beneath the surface with Mark, and what's fun is how it doles out that information. It's a unique perspective and I think it's what makes this script so intriguing.”

Producer Jennifer Fox adds, "It was a great way to show the absurdity of the situation, the idea of an unreliable narrator—the most unreliable narrator because he's someone who has a hard time distinguishing the truth.”

In fact, as Damon remarks, Whitacre's narration is not only unreliable, it is also not necessarily related to the scene unfolding on the screen. "It's more of a stream of consciousness, a kind of digressive thinking,” he says. "He might be in the middle of a conversation with someone when something triggers this inner monologue that can spin off in any direction: ties, polar bears, frequent flier miles…whatever.”

Burns relates that in writing Whitacre's voiceover, "a lot of it was just allowing my mind to wander. As a writer, it was fun for me to think of the sort of tangents someone in his position could go off on at any particular moment in the story. What came out of that generated a kind of comedy that Steven and Matt really responded to.”

"There should be a TV show about a guy who calls home one day and he's there. He answers…only it's someone else. He's somehow divided into two…”

From the start, Matt Damon was Steven Soderbergh's first and only choice for the central role of Mark Whitacre. "Matt has been invol

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