State Of Play Premieres In London

Political thriller rolls into town

State Of Play Premieres In London

by Emily Phillips |
Published on

The premiere for Kevin Macdonald's political reporting thriller State Of Play took place last night in Leicester Square, with the director and stars Russell Crowe and Helen Mirren in attendance.

Watch video from the State Of Play premiere red carpet.

Crowe plays Cal McAffery, a rumpled hack who becomes embroiled in a political game of cat and mouse after his college room mate and high-profile congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) asks for his help following an affair. Based on a BBC drama starring John Simm and David Morrissey, the update is now set in Washington and co-stars Rachel McAdams and Robin Wright Penn, and Helen Mirren playing Crowe's editor (a rather more glamorous version of the role originally filled by Bill Nighy).

Mild-mannered director McDonald talked us through the film while his two leads concentrated their efforts on the crowds lining the red carpet, telling us how he kept the notoriously feisty Crowe in line when playing a journalist: “I think Russell enjoyed it, but had a very complex relationship with the media and with journalists and he made that clear from the beginning that he had some trepidation, because he wasn’t sure he could play a heroic character as a journalist. And I think what we realised was that he didn’t have to play a hero: the point of this character is that he is highly flawed. And like any journalist, he makes mistakes, he has his biases, but in the long run he makes the right decisions, by his sense of the importance of his job and the integrity of what he’s doing."

“He can be quite a tough person to deal with at times, but his attitude is always that everything is for the film, everything is for the character that he is playing. When you argue about things, he won’t just roll over about it - he’ll fight for what he believes in. But you can separate out discussions or arguments that are in a work context from anything else.”

The part was originally supposed to be played by Brad Pitt, so how did McDonald feel when the pair parted ways just weeks before filming was due to kick off?

He told us: “At the time I wasn’t too sad to lose him, because you don’t want to make a film with an actor that doesn’t want to make it – it’s never going to be a good film. You need someone who is passionate and Brad made it clear over the week or two before filming started that he didn’t see the same film as I did. So yes, it was tough when he pulled out: you’re left having spent a lot of money, with huge sets and actors all on contract, you don’t want that to fall apart and people be unemployed, so that’s stressful. But on the other hand, creatively I couldn’t be happier to have Russell – he gives a phenomenal performance and he’s much better suited to this sort of part than Brad ever would have been. Creatively 100% not regretful.”

He also told us how he felt that Helen Mirren was ideal for the role of Crowe's strong willed newspaper editor Cameron Lynne, played by Bill Nighy in the original BBC series: “She’s the most convincing ruthless editor. Every hack in the world would love to have her as their editor; she's sexy and authoritative and brilliant when she’s giving Russell a bit of a telling off. I was thinking of people like Tina Brown, the famous British editor who went on to edit Vanity Fair and The New Yorker; the strong British female journalists going to America and making their mark there.”

Next up McDonald is working on young Roman Empire epic The Eagle Of The Ninth, based on Rosemary Sutcliffe's book and set to star the none-more-classical Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell. The movie, which begins pre-prep next month to begin shooting in August, will go head to head with fellow Ninth Legion epic **Centurion **when they both hit screens in 2010. **Empire **asked the director if he felt that the pair would be direct competitors: “I don’t really care. I just want to make my film good and leave it up to the finance people as to whether there is room enough for two films like this. They don’t really seem too worried, so I’m not.”

**State of Play **is in cinemas from June 24.

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