‘She Said’ stars Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan borrowed an acting trick from ‘All the President’s Men’

‘She Said’ stars Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan borrowed an acting trick from ‘All the President’s Men’

*) Hollywood loves a good journalism movie. The film industry has a long history of probing newsrooms for inspiration, whether it’s Rosalind Russell chasing one last story in His Girl Friday or Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford investigating Watergate in All the President’s Men. It’s not surprising that one of the most important news stories of the past decade is coming to the big screen. The bombshell investigation into disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein

Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan headline She Said, a tense newsroom drama about the two New York Times journalists who helped expose Weinstein’s decades of misconduct. Mulligan and Kazan play Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, who, in 2017, published a groundbreaking article detailing years of Weinstein’s alleged abuse. Maria Schrader directed the film. It is a taut thriller about Twohey and Kantor’s relentless investigation. The result is a moving tribute both to the power of journalism as well as the many subjects who spoke against Weinstein.

When EW spoke to Mulligan and Kazan shortly before the film’s Nov. 18 release, the two actresses said they were both “so nervous” to meet the real-life journalists they’d be portraying. Twohey and Kantor were quickly interviewed by Kazan and Mulligan about their journalistic roles. They asked them everything, from how they conducted interviews to their desks in the office. The film focuses on the bond between the four women, which is especially evident in their shared experiences as working mothers. (Mulligan, 37, is a mom of two with husband Marcus Mumford, and Kazan, 39, recently welcomed her second child with her partner Paul Dano.)

Here Mulligan and Kazan talk about bringing She Said to the screen. They also discuss the acting trick they used from Hoffman and Redford in All the President’s Men ..

She Said

Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan as Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey in ‘She Said’

| Credit: Universal Pictures

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I know you got the chance to meet with Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey before you started filming. Do you have any memories of your first meeting with them?

ZOE KAZAN: I think I met Jodi first because we were both in New York. We went to dinner. We live in very close proximity to each other. My daughter went to preschool the same place her daughter had attended preschool. It felt like there was a lot of overlap. We shared a favorite restaurant, so we went there. I felt like I was on a blind date. [Laughs] I’ve never been on a blind date, but I was like, “Oh, this must be what a blind date feels like. “

I was nervous because they are both very intimidating. Not as people but as individuals. I think I came in with a lot expectations. But then she was so warm and friendly. It felt like we had known each other for a very long time. They were both so open about sharing their lives with us. It must be difficult to be the subject, especially when you are so rarely the subject. They are often in the position to ask the questions. We were the ones asking them.

CAREY MULLIGAN: Yeah, I was pretty nervous. The first time I went to America, I was in England. There was very limited travel so I didn’t think I would be able to get there. So we Zoomed and I believe the first Zoom was all four. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it alone so Zoe did it for me. [Laughs]

It’s that odd thing, isn’t it, [where people ask]: “Who do you want to play you in the film of your life?” I wanted to do it justice so I was nervous. They are intimidating figures if they aren’t familiar because they’re so impressive. It’s the people like this that make me feel silly. I think, “Oh, my professional pretender, and now I’m talking to this person who is such a grown-up.” They were so kind. They were open about everything, not only about the process of investigating but also about their lives and their relationship.

As you both got to speak to them and really dive into this story, what surprised you the most?

Kazan:

KAZAN: I think I was surprised by how much they knew and how early. I was naive in thinking that journalists could publish the truth if they knew the truth. They had to do so much to get the documents that would support what they knew. Everything had to be perfect. Jodi said it was like writing an legal document. It was just like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle. This is one of the many pleasures of watching the movie, even though it’s so heavy. It’s a real pleasure to see people use their brains to take down this predator.

MULLIGAN: Also, what I was surprised by is that sitting in 2022, we can look back, and it seems inevitable that this would’ve happened. This would make him accountable and propel this amazing movement. All of this was not inevitable. It was all completely unknowable. Zoe talks about reading the article [in 2017] and thinking, “Well, I wonder if this will even change anything.” It was not inevitable. They felt that way even before they published it. They had such modest expectations, that they didn’t know what the impact would have on them. So it was interesting to put yourself back in 2017, a different world. This was a great opportunity to learn and experience a lot, even though they didn’t know it would.

That’s the interesting thing about telling this story in 2022. Although we can see the impact, I cannot imagine what it was like for them before it was published.

MULLIGAN: I don’t think they can even fully process it now. Megan and Jodi discuss the day they clicked “publish” and how overwhelmed they were with messages coming from all over the globe. Emails and phone calls from women sharing their stories, not only within our industry but across all industries and walks of life. It’s hard to imagine how that must feel. It was like a river changing its course. They worked for months to find any source, but the sources started coming to them after they published the film.

SHE SAID

Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan in ‘She Said’

| Credit: JoJo Whilden/Universal Pictures

The film also portrays Jodi and Megan not just as journalists but as working mothers. They struggle with late-night phone calls, childcare, and dealing daily with postpartum depression. This is not the typical view we see on television. What was it that you found most interesting about this part of the story?

MULLIGAN: I mean, for me, Megan’s experience was something I really connected to immediately. My first child had a similar experience. I was pretty blindsided by postnatal depressive symptoms. I thought I was the only one in the world with it and that I was mad. It was a common condition that I discovered was not uncommon. Sharing my feelings with others greatly helped me.

Also, my experience echoed Megan’s because work was what I could hold on to. It was a combination of many other things and a lot of support, but it was what pulled me through it. It is something that is very common, and not often discussed. However, it is more common now than ever. It’s important to see it onscreen alongside a woman who’s incredibly capable and impressive at work. It’s something that many people experience that we don’t talk about. It was a great decision by her to include it, and I was thrilled that she shared it. She didn’t have the obligation.

KAZAN: We rewatched All the President’s Men as we were getting ready to do this. You see their apartment in that movie. Their apartment is a mess and you don’t need any more information about their bachelor lives than that. Their work can be the centre of their lives. It’s important to recognize that these women were trying to do something very important, as well as doing the work that would change the world. Both had to be kept in the air.

For me, my partner Paul [Dano] was on the other side of the country shooting The Fabelmans while we were shooting this. My parents were able to help me with my child, and I had a wonderful nanny who could also fill in. That was the only way we could make it work. So I was going to work, doing the juggle between motherhood and work, and then returning home to do the same thing. This wonderful community of women was something I felt. It’s a common juggle that many of us do, and it’s important to show it on screen and put a spotlight on it.

When you think about the great canon of classic journalism movies, it’s a lot of men. Stories about mothers who are both extraordinary investigative journalists and working mothers are not common.

MULLIGAN: I think what interested me in the story is that there are all these pieces that made up these women. They brought their experience together and made it possible. Because so many competent journalists tried to cover this story but were unable to do it. What is it about these two people and their lives that made them the winners? Motherhood is an integral part of it, I believe. They bonded because of their experiences as mothers. They both had daughters and I know that this inspired them.

KAZAN: They also had the institutional support of The New York Times, which you see in the film. We have thought a lot about this movie and how it is about collective action and the power that people can stand up for truth and how that can help make a difference. It makes a real difference when an institution such as The puts its muscle behind it.

I know you got to actually shoot in the New York Times offices during the early days of the pandemic. What was it like filming in that area?

MULLIGAN: That’s where we started the shoot. We started in the New York Times building, and it had been empty since March 2020. We were the first film crew to be allowed to film there and the first people to be allowed back in the building. It was amazing! We were texting Megan & Jodi and they said, “We can’t believe you’re in there before us!” We were there with our crew because it’s so important to them.

KAZAN: It was also a really uncanny experience because we’d be reading The New York Times on our phones, and I think in some sort of childish way, I had this idea, like, “Oh, in some other building they’re all making The New York Times, and it’s being beamed into my phone.” Then I’d be like “No, we are in New York Times.” They’re all in their bedrooms, hunched at their computers. [Laughs]

That’s so funny. You think you’re in the middle of all the action. Except there isn’t any action.

MULLIGAN: It was empty. It was empty. We filled it with supporting artists. Megan and Jodi were very specific about the desks they wanted. It was something we wanted to recreate.

KAZAN: But it was like everyone had been lifted out of the building. Valentine’s Day candy was still on the desks of people and shoes were still under their desks. It was quite strange.

You two have worked together before on stage, but this is your first time acting in a film together. How would you approach your friendship on screen?

MULLIGAN: I just can’t imagine ever having done it with anyone else. We’ve known each other for 14 years. Zoe was my bridesmaid. We had been looking for something to do together for years, whether it was on TV or stage. Wildlife and we came close to it in the fact that Zoe co-wrote it with Paul, and that we all worked together on that. We never found the thing. We also said that, for a long period, there was only one girl in most projects. It was a blessing for us to be able to work together in this amazing partnership.

KAZAN: It really felt like there was a partnership on screen, and then there was a partnership off-screen. I loved having Carey’s brain to bounce around from and having the shorthand between them, really understanding how she works. We shared a small dressing room and did a play together for several months. It was so gratifying to feel that we could support each other artistically. Personally, I’ve never seen anything like it in a film.

MULLIGAN: I always thought the bit that would be challenging was the bit where they don’t know each other [at the beginning of the film]. We were confident that we could do the best friend part at the end. [Laughs] But the part of the film where they don’t know each other, they don’t immediately click. There is some tension. Megan doesn’t believe in Jodi’s mission. We had to think about how this relationship started and what brought them together.

When you think back to filming, what’s the day that sticks out the most in your mind?

MULLIGAN: I loved the newsroom stuff. We stole this from All The President’s Men where Redford and Hoffman had already learned each other’s lines. They both knew the entire script for all the scenes they were in together. We did the same thing. We knew each other’s lines for every scene we were in together in the newsroom. So that we could overlap, I knew her lines every time we reported back to Patricia Clarkson, Dean, or Rebecca Clarkson. I could finish her sentence or she could finish my. It was great fun the first time we did it.

KAZAN: They both have this information, and it’s just a case of who’s going to articulate that part of it first. They could finish each other’s sentences because it was such a partnership.

MULLIGAN: Just on that note, JoJo [Whilden] was our photographer on set. We were grabbing her at one point and she showed us a still from All the President’s Men of Redford and Hoffman. I was like, “I want it to be recreated.” We did it quickly so we continued. That’s the poster!

KAZAN: That never happens. All the posters that are good end up being taken directly from the film. That was the one where we were posing. [Laughs]

MULLIGAN: I find it so funny. It’s a kind Easter egg. It’s based upon this still from All the President’s Men !.

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