Aaron Sorkin sounded off about America’s lack of gun control laws at the Zurich Film Festival, where he is presenting his directorial debut Molly’s Game.
When prompted by a journalist about the subject, Sorkin told a ZFF press conference: “I was gently told before I came here to remember that people who voted for Donald Trump buy movie tickets too. In other words, try not to insult half the people. However, in light of what happened in Las Vegas the other night, I think that to not say anything for the sake of box office – the very next person who gets shot, a little of that would be on me, or on anyone who doesn’t say anything.
“We have an epidemic in the United States that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. We have these mass shootings, these senseless mass shootings, with weapons that are only designed for one thing, and that is to kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time as possible. They are not used to defend yourself if there is a home intruder, they are not weapons that you would use for game hunting. These are weapons of war, and in the US we have too many cowardly congressmen, whose spines are in the pockets of the National Rifle Association, which is the lobbying group for assassins in the United States.”
Later in the press conference, he clarified “I don’t believe I was saying something bad about America, I think I was saying something bad about automatic weapons and certain congressmen.”
Moving into the director’s chair
Sorkin was honoured in Zurich with the festival’s Career Achievement Award and presented the European premiere of Molly’s Game, which had its world premiere in Toronto as one of the hits of the festival. Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba and Kevin Costner star.
He first met the real-life subject of the film, Molly Bloom, in 2014, when she published her memoir Molly’s Game, about her time running a high-stakes poker game with Hollywood insiders.
Other filmmakers were approaching her to tell the glitzy side of Bloom’s story, but Sorkin saw different potential. “I understood the gravitational pull towards the glamour and the decadence and the money and the movie stars and everything, but I really thought there was a much more emotional story in which she wasn’t simply the observer in all this, she was the protagonist. I thought she was a unique movie heroine.”
He added that he was interested in “the story of how she would not save her own life by tossing other people under the bus.”
Sorkin had written the screenplay when he then thought that perhaps he was the right director for the film. “I just knew that there were several different versions of this movie that could be made. And there was lower hanging fruit than what I was going after. I was worried that it was too easy to make the movie about the shiny objects and I was drawn to the emotional parts of the movie.”
Sorkin, whose TV credits include The West Wing and The Newsroom, has more recently been working with film screenplays including Moneyball, The Social Network and Steve Jobs.
He said that he can see the appeal in working across both film and TV. “In television, the one drawback is that you have to write even when you aren’t writing well,” he explained of a series’ demanding deadlines. “Nonetheless if I had an idea which I felt lent itself to a series, you bet [I’d do TV again]… It is a brand new golden age of television….movies aren’t going anywhere, people are making great movies, but television is better than it’s ever been.”
He said he hasn’t confirmed his next project and would continue to collaborate with other directors, “but I think I’m also not done wanting to direct my own stuff from time to time.”