With five Oscar nominations (and three wins) between them, Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford are two of Hollywood’s most iconic figures with the ability to play any character put in front of them.
But even they need a little guidance, and while making their new movie “Truth,” which looks back on one of CBS News’ most infamous moments, they went to the people who were there.
The film looks back on the 2004 “60 Minutes” investigation Dan Rather and producer Mary Mapes did that brought to question President George W. Bush’s military service.
Rather was a legend in the field, reporting at CBS for over 40 years and the anchor of the “CBS Evening News.” Mapes was his no-nonsense “60 Minutes” producer who had recently done a piece on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, which she received a Peabody for.
After the Bush piece aired the blogshpere blew up, alleging that the documents in the piece were not authentic and questioning Rather and Mapes’ reporting, leading to a media firestorm known as “Rathergate.”
Mapes went through a gruelling internal investigation which led to her being fired. Rather was forced to step down as anchor of “CBS Evening News” after the scandal died down.
“Truth” delves into the backstory of the scandal with Redford playing Rather and Blanchett as Mapes. Though the two say they were familiar with “Rathergate,” they needed more to play the roles.
Redford met Rather back in the 1970s at an event about the environment but hadn’t interacted with him since. However, he did call Rather before filming started.
“I said, ‘I’m going to be playing you,'” Redford told Business Insider. “He was very gracious and said, ‘Well, I’m really honored that you’re playing me,'” and I said, ‘You might want to wait and see the film before you say that.'”
Redford said he didn’t talk a long time with the news legend. He simply asking him if there was anything he should know about “Rathergate” before making the film.
“He said, ‘It’s about loyalty,'” Rather recalled. “Loyalty between he and Mary. Because they needed that loyalty with each other because they were against the odds. So I took that to heart.”
Though Redford and Blanchett didn’t meet until they were in the make-up room before their first scene, that loyalty became an unspoken bond between the two actors.
As Blanchett said about Redford, “He has this uncanny ability to just jump in like he’s in a three-year relationship, we skipped the hellos and went right to the heart of the conversation.”
But Blanchett admits she needed more from Mapes compared to what Redford needed from Rather.
“I didn’t even know what she looked like, ” she told Business Insider.
So the actress invited Mapes to a play she was doing in New York last August for their first meeting. That then evolved to Blachett communicating with Mapes via Skype during filming. But it was less about what was going on in the scenes and more capturing the personality of Mapes.
“She’s a vivacious, curious, sensitive woman,” Blanchett said. “I just wanted to hear her, we would talk about the dog she was sitting. As an actor you have to present the character warts and all. I found Mary remarkably open to an actor doing that.”
“Truth” opens in limited release on Friday.
Watch the trailer: