I loved that Peter Landesman had the same reaction that I did when Deep Throat was finally revealed. That would be “Who’s that?” Bob Woodward’s source for the reporting that eventually brought down the Nixon administration was Mark Felt, an FBI man who kept a low profile while violating his personal code of ethics in service to a higher cause. When I spoke with Landesman on September 28, 2017, that surprise was the first thing I brought up, before moving on to what it was like for Landesman to spend time with Felt while researching what would eventually be his film, MARK FELT: THE MAN WHO BROUGHT DOWN THE WHITE HOUSE.
I went on to talk with the former war correspondent about the contemporary resonances in a story about obstruction of justice by the Executive Branch of government, the painterly approach Landesman took to filming; the psychology of color; and whether or not co-star Tom Sizemore’s hairline and shoulder hunch was a shout-out to Nixon.
We finished up with why looking at well-known historical incidents from a different perspective is so important; the difference between people who are self-consciously in the eye of history, and those who aren’t; what he has next; and why he believes in the system.
MARK FELT tells the story of Watergate from Deep Throat’s perspective. Which is to say, the viewpoint of Mark Felt, the FBI veteran who leaked key information to reported Bob Woodward in order to counter the illegal interference by the White House into the Watergate investigation. Despite the audience knowing the outcome before the opening credits roll, Landesman brings genuine suspense to the story as Felt wrestles with his conscience, and with drama on the home front, in order to serve a cause higher than guarding FBI secrets that he’s faithfully kept for 35 years. The film stars Liam Neeson, Diane Lane, Marton Csokas, Tony Goldwyn, Josh Lucas, Ike Barinholtz, Tom Sizemore, Bruce Greenwood, Noah Wylie, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Kate Walsh, and Maika Monroe. Landesman directed from his own script, and his previous work includes PARKLAND, THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS, CONCUSSION, and KILL THE MESSENGER. Before turning to film, he was a war correspondent.