“When do I ever get to make a call to my parents like this again?,” said Beau Willimon about Oscar nominations morning when his screenplay for “The Ides of March” gained a bid for Best Adapted Screenplay. “As many of my friends on the East Coast that I thought might be awake, I started calling. E-mails and texts started pouring in. It was thrilling.”
Willimon wrote the off-Broadway play “Farragut North” in 2008 based on his experiences working on various political campaigns. The plot focuses on an idealistic high level media consultant working for a Presidential candidate in the Ohio primary when he starts discovering how dirty politics are played. After many rejections, his agent finally found a market for the idea as a film screenplay.
In a video chat with senior editors Rob Licuria and Chris Beachum, Willimon said, “I got the Hollywood fairy tale phone call where my agent said Warner Bros. would like to option it for a movie and they want George Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprio to produce it. I was driving a car at the time and almost drove it into a ditch.”
Clooney and frequent collaborator Grant Heslov co-wrote the screenplay with Willimon. Clooney also directed the film and stars as Pennsylvania Governor Mike Morris who is running for U.S. President. Ryan Gosling plays Stephen Meyers, the second-in-command for the campaign and a true believer in his cause. Other well-known cast members include Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, and Jeffrey Wright.
The trio faces an uphill battle to win the Academy Award since the category includes three nominees for Best Picture — “The Descendants” (written by Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash), “Hugo” (John Logan), and “Moneyball” (Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillian, and Stan Chervin) — plus the British spy drama “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan). Our exclusive Gold Derby statistics have it trailing a good bit behind with 25/1 odds compared to the frontrunner status of “The Descendants” at 1/1 (which coincidentally is the other starring vehicle for acting nominee Clooney).
Next up for Willimon is the Netflix drama series “House of Cards” with two more headlining partners – director David Fincher and star-producer Kevin Spacey. It will be a serial political thriller about the sinister underbelly of British politics. The show is expected to debut in late 2012 for the online website.
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