Writer Lawrence Wright understands that “9/11 is a hallowed part of our history,” so “you have to be very careful in telling that story. There’s a kind of sacred quality to it, and you don’t want to exploit it.” That’s why he was initially hesitant to adapt his Pulitzer Prize winning nonfiction book “The Looming Tower” for the screen. “I didn’t trust just turning it into a television show or movie,” but he trusted filmmaker Alex Gibney and writer/producer Dan Futterman, and he recognized how television had transformed as a medium. So he brought it to Hulu and decided to “take control of it” as a producer. Watch our exclusive video interview with Wright above.
“The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11” was published in 2006 after five years of work “traveling around the world, mainly in the Middle East and South Asia.” It was a “long, lonely time” for Wright, and it was challenging to research since his “two main sources were terrorists and spooks.” But he considered the book his “mission” and “probably the most important thing I’ll ever do as a writer.”
His work paid off with the Pulitzer for General Non-Fiction in 2007. It was “an amazing honor” for Wright, especially since “I had really never won any awards before. In kindergarten I was the Best Napper.” And before “The Looming Tower” there had been “a hundred books on 9/11. The fact that mine would have been selected out of that long list of very distinguished works made the honor all the more wonderful for me.”
Now Wright is an Emmy contender for Best Limited Series. But what matters the most in 2018 is “the fact that young people who are going to college now weren’t born when 9/11 happened, and those who are graduating from college were not old enough to appreciate how history had changed.” 9/11 was a pivot point in American history. “There was a kind of freedom we had” before the attacks “that we don’t have now. Terrorism killed that. I don’t think we’ll get back to that anytime soon, but if we forget that … then in some ways I think terrorism has won.”
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