The new Oliver Stone film “Snowden” mixes fiction and fact to retell the story of Edward Snowden’s journey out of the shadows of intelligence to expose some of America’s biggest secrets. And as the film comes to a close, viewers will know that the real Snowden is perfectly at peace with that.
Snowden makes a brief cameo at the end to put his mark on the film, delivering a passionate speech from the second home of his Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucharena.
“I am incredibly fortunate,” Snowden says.
Before Snowden comes on screen, the fictionalized Snowden character played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt appears on stage with a telepresence robot to deliver a speech from Moscow.
“Without the information to start a public debate, we’re lost. You know, the people being able to question our government and hold it accountable — that’s the principle that the United States of America was founded on. If we want to protect our national security, we should be protecting that principle,” the Snowden character played by Gordon-Levitt says.
“I believe that if, nothing changes, more and more people all over the world will come forward. Whistleblowers and journalists but also, regular citizens. And when those in power try to hide by classifying everything, we will call them out on it. And when they try to scare us into sacrificing our basic human rights, we won’t be intimidated, and we won’t give up, and we will not be silenced.”
Then, the real Snowden appears in the Moscow home, behind a laptop with a large red EFF sticker proclaiming “I Support Online Rights.”
“When I left Hawaii, I lost everything. I had a stable life, stable love, family, future. And I lost that life, but, I’ve gained a new one, and I am incredibly fortunate,” Snowden says. “And I think the greatest freedom that I’ve gained is the fact that I no longer have to worry about what happens tomorrow, because I’m happy with what I’ve done today.”
Director Oliver Stone told The New York Times the shot took nine takes. “I mean, he’s not an actor,” Stone said. “And I don’t think he became one that day.”
Snowden has lived under asylum in Russia for more than three years. He left his home in Hawaii with thousands of top secret documents he gave to journalists in Hong Kong before fleeing to Moscow, where he remains to this day.