Molly’s Game Director-writer Aaron Sorkin and stars graced the red carpet for the NYC premiere
High-stakes poker–it’s not the easiest world to break into. When millions of dollars are on on the table and nerves are strung tighter than a violin’s bow, being at that underground game can seem more stressful than sitting down for the last round of interviews before landing that coveted job. Couple that with the pride, jealousy, and energy that’s mixed in, and the world of clandestine texas hold ’em can seem more like a drug fueled trip than a simple card game.
But for one Olympic skier, it seems like she was born for it. Molly’s Game tells the story of just that skier, who, after suffering a career-ending injury during a particularly dangerous ski run, makes her way into the world of underground poker. What first began as a part-time job soon transitioned into a full-fledged business, one that had Russian oligarchs, Hollywood elites, and Arab sheikhs all rubbing shoulders as they threw millions of dollars at a felt green table.
Marking Aaron Sorkin’s long overdue directorial debut, Molly’s Game features the same frenetic pace and whip-smart dialogue that Sorkinians have come to love and adore, but with a noticeable aesthetic oomph that will certainly usher the Academy Award-winning writer into a more permanent place in the director’s chair. The Knockturnal had the opportunity to speak to the cast of the crime-drama during last week’s NYC premiere. Check out what they had to say below.
Frenetic Dialogue is Matched By Frenetic Work Ethic
Aaron Sorkin’s works feature many of the same traits–there’s a lot of fast talking, fast walking, and heavy-winded monologues. While it can be overwhelming to some, the majority of us cinephiles can’t get enough of the writer’s dizzying barrage of diatribes. It can make for some wondrous drama, frequently coming out as compelling, entertaining, and above all, thought-provoking. It’s a challenging undertaking, one that points to the writer’s frantic pace of working.
“It took me a little over a year to write this movie–which is quick for me because it’s usually two years but I wrote this in a little over a year and then it took another year to make,” said the writer. And once seeing the movie, one can be sure that Sorkin must have barely slept in order to make weave this head-spinning tale.
The Sorkin Porno
To many writers, an Academy Award seems to be the pinnacle of one’s career. The golden statue is a symbol of peer reverence, audience adoration, and critical praise. For Sorkin, that moment came when he nabbed the Best Adapted Screenplay award for the excellent The Social Network. And yet, before he was the preeminent screenwriter in Hollywood, Sorkin would have been fine in a much more lewd setting.
“I thought that if I wrote adult films, that maybe I could be considered the preeminent screenwriter of adult films,” joked Sorkin. The writer went on to concede, “but that those films would be very chatty. They probably wouldn’t satisfy the audience’s of adult films [laughs].” I’m not so sure Mr. Sorkin–perhaps in an alternate universe, those films would have been considered the Citizen Kane’s of the adult film world. I guess we’ll never know.
A Personal Story that Isn’t All About the Poker
To many people who adapt works, the subject matter of the work has to appeal to the writer. After all, how can one become inspired to write about something if they have no interest in it? How is one to spin a yarn if there no inspiration permeating in from the topic at hand? For Sorkin, that was a decidedly easy endeavor.
“This isn’t a poker movie,” revealed the director. “It’s set against the backdrop of this very high-stakes, underground celebrity filled poker games but its a personal story about Molly Bloom,” explained Sorkin. The writer-cum-director went on to posit, “it’s an emotional and inspirational story. It was her. She was why I wanted to write the movie, not the poker.”
Preparing for the Molly Bloom Look
Molly Bloom was the head of powerful high stakes poker games, regularly welcoming celebrities and stars to the table. She was respectful, smart, and knew how to run a game. To many, it seemed that she was hardly even at the games, making sure that her presence never impede the flow of the game. And yet her physical presence was always on full display, a quality that star Jessica Chastain had to challengingly step into.
“It was crazy because it was a very different look than me,” said Chastain. “I was doing spray tans every few days, which is so cold. No one says that! It is so uncomfortable to get a spray tan! You’re basically standing there naked and they’re spraying you with very cold liquid,” joked Chastain. “I was getting nails, eyebrows, and eyelashes done. And I was taping my body in these dresses. And the hair! I’ve never spent more time on my appearance than I did with this part [laughs],” explained the Oscar-nominated actor.
Just Who the Hell was Player X, Really?
With the revolving door of celebrities that Molly Bloom catered to during her time working as the premier underground poker game runner, it was no surprise that many of them wanted to keep their identities a secret. Whether it was the insane amounts of cash they were gambling or the marathon sessions that would keep people at the table for days on end, it’s safe to say that few of the individuals at the table wanted to air their dirty laundry in the form of a Hollywood film–which is where the character of Player X comes in. Touted as a celebrity player who seemingly single-handedly controls the reputation of Bloom’s game, Player X was the celebrity at the table. But just one question remained–just who was he?
While many different ideas came through my mind during the screening, Michael Cera was more than happy to clear that mystery up. “It was Toby Maguire,” revealed Cera. But the actor was quick to elucidate, expanding, “but I think it’s more of a composite of several people from her game. In her book, I think the most contentious relationship was with him.” The funnyman went on to explain, “in Molly Bloom’s book, she doesn’t make it a mystery. She names him. I guess Aaron [Sorkin] didn’t think it was important to the movie or maybe that it would be distracting, which makes sense to me. But it didn’t matter too much to me because it didn’t have any bearing on the part.” And to be fair, it didn’t seem to have all that much of a bearing on the viewer either.
Molly’s Game is slated to hit theaters come Christmas Day.