Aaron Sorkin on the Trial of the Chicago 7 scene that let him know 'these guys are going to be good'
In 2006, Steven Spielberg tasked Aaron Sorkin with penning a movie about the true story of the Chicago Seven: antiwar activists charged with inciting a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Over the next decade-plus, the Oscar winner (The Social Network) would complete dozens of rewrites before Netflix's The Trial of the Chicago 7 became a reality — with him unexpectedly directing it, too.
Now, ahead of Sorkin vying for another screenwriting Oscar, the filmmaker breaks down what he calls "our real first look at the defendants — and the friction between them."
1. The Great Indoors
After spending the first two weeks shooting exteriors in Chicago, the king of the walk-and-talk was thrilled to be back in his indoor element for this courthouse scene. "I'm happiest when I have four walls and I'm writing people in rooms," Sorkin says. "As soon as I type 'EXT,' I just start to get nervous."
2. Gimme Some Sugar
Sorkin figured he'd thought through every scenario — until seeing what his actors brought on the day. "There's no stage direction in the script that says Jerry [Rubin] pours a half pound of sugar into his coffee," Sorkin says with a laugh about Jeremy Strong using props at hand while telling off Eddie Redmayne's Tom Hayden.
3. Team Players
Sorkin was anxious over how his famous cast fit together. ("Most of these guys are used to starring in their own movies.") But filming this scene squashed that fear: "It was the first time I was able to say, 'God, these guys are going to be good,'" he says of a group that also included Oscar winner Mark Rylance and Sacha Baron Cohen, who is Oscar-nominated for Chicago 7. "They liked to pass as much as they liked to shoot."
For more on this scene, read Sorkin's annotated script page below.
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