Playing a living person might be an actor’s biggest challenge so when Naomi Watts decided to play undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame in Doug Liman’s new political drama Fair Game, she wanted to meet with Plame herself in order to figure out her motivations and try to get her personality down, something which proved tricky considering how much of Plame’s story is tied up in government.
Having discovered Iraq may not have the active nuclear weapons program the government was claiming, Plame convinced the State Department to send her husband Joe Wilson (Sean Penn), an Ambassador to Niger who had played a key role in ending the previous Iraq War, to investigate claims of uranium sales between Africa and Iraq. When Wilson wrote about his findings in The New York Times, various factions within the Bush administration leaked the identity and occupation of Wilson’s wife to the Washington press, causing problems within their public and private lives as well as splitting their family apart.
It was a huge news story at the time, not only because it unearthed the revelation that American people were being lied to about WMDs in Iraq, but also because it was unheard of for the government to make the identity of their undercover agents public. Liman’s film spends as much time in the actual behind the scenes of the WMD investigation as it does showing the impact the news leak has on Plame and Wilson’s lives. It’s the latter part of Fair Game, essentially the second half, that allows Naomi Watts to deliver a performance on par with some of her best roles, including her previous pairing with Penn for Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 21 Grams.
ComingSoon.net attended the New York junket for the film, and while we didn’t get a ton of time with Ms. Watts, in that scant amount of time we talked about:
* Her reaction when told they wanted to do a movie about Valerie Plame
Fair Game opens in select cities on November 5. Look for our exclusive interview with director Doug Liman closer to that date.