January 1st, 2018, see’s the release of the brilliant Molly’s Game in UK cinemas and surprising enough acclaimed screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, The Social Network, Steve Jobs), making his directorial debut (and he also wrote the script) on a staggeringly and very timely true story of one woman’s rise from failed Olympic-class skier to running high-stakes poker games for a few high flying players that included Hollywood A-listers, sports stars and anyone with access to huge volumes of cash, including the Russian mafia.
Molly’s Game is based on the true story of Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by 17 FBI agents wielding automatic weapons. Her players included Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans and finally, unbeknownst to her, the Russian mob. Her only ally was her criminal defense lawyer Charlie Jaffey, who learned that there was much more to Molly than the tabloids led us to believe.
Jessica Chastain fiercely takes the lead as Molly Bloom, portraying Molly as a strong woman refusing to be downtrodden by the heavy numbers of men that roam her world. Chastain, in real life, is a strong advocate for Women’s equality across a number of issues including equal pay and the call for more female film critics; she has also lent her voice passionately to the #Metoo campaign which has just won Time’s Person of the Year status.
We had the pleasure of joining Chastain as well Aaron Sorkin and Idris Elba, who stars alongside Chastain in the film as her lawyer Charlie Jaffey at the London Press Conference in which they discussed the film as well as Chastain’s proactive work for Women’s equality.
Aaron Sorkin, known for his fantastic lyrical dialogue in his writing style that has made films such as A Few Good Men, The Social Network and Steve Jobs such compelling viewing revealed exactly why he wanted to get involved in telling Molly’s Bloom’s story.
“She’s built out of integrity, the more I heard of the real story, and the more I knew, I wanted to write this right now. This was a unique heroine found in an unlikely place. This was a story about many things, including doing the right thing, it appealed to my sense of romanticism and idealism.
I think I let it be [about gender politics], when I’m writing I really try to stick to intention and obstacle as much as I can. There are going to be themes that emerge when you do your second draft, you start to take away the things that aren’t that. I knew it was going to be about gender politics before I started writing it just by talking to Molly”.
This year has also seen Idris Elba stepping out of his comfort zone with a romantic lead in The Mountain Between Us, again, with Molly’s Game Idris plays a role audiences aren’t used to seeing him play on the cinematic screen and it hands down is one of his best performances to date in a film and again that can only be down to the brilliant script from Sorkin and his level of wonderful dialogue.
The relationship between Molly and her lawyer Charlie is the very backbone of the story, Idris went on to reveal how he went on to prepare for those scenes with Chastain in the short amount of time they had to shoot and how they treated each scene like a short play.
“We didn’t have much time to prepare, and it is very the spine [of the film], The Charlie Jaffey character which is in part, completely made up, is, of course, Aaron, to some degree, point of view at least on how some of the way the whole case was handled and also an entry point perhaps for the audience to be able to jump in and out without honestly breaking their minds with all the logistics of a court battle like this.
It was a very clever device that Jessica and I got the privilege of playing because it was like a play, essentially we had about 10-12 days to shoot all of those scenes and some of those scenes are 10 pages long. Jessica was already on set when I got there, but we just jumped in, rehearsed a lot, we would essentially walk onto the set, show the crew, which was like a little bit of street theatre every morning, and then we would go off and dissect this into the scene”.
Chastain, as mentioned before is a strong advocate for gender equality, and the theme of Molly’s Game shouts this message from the rooftops. It’s a timely piece amongst Hollywood and it’s sexual harassment cases finally being brought into the limelight by so many brave women, who, until now, have been too scared to come forward before. Chastain went onto to explain this and why she was so proud to be a part of this story.
“There’s a great moment, it’s one of my favourite scenes on the park bench with Kevin Costner, he starts out the scene as saying “You wanted to have power over powerful men” and most people grab onto that line and keep it, but at the end of this scene she says “I wanted to have power over powerful men” and he said no, I just said that to make you mad”. In reality, she wanted to have power over industry and I think we are living in a society where women are now speaking to that.
It’s not about having power over men, it’s about having power over our own agency. For me the film is very timely, I am so proud to be a part of this, to be alive right now in this time where so many women are coming forward and so many men are allies in creating gender equality”.
Molly’s Game is a fascinatingly timely and brilliantly made film which showcases not only Sorkin’s skill, yet again, as a dialogue technician but a complete master behind the camera. Chastain and Elba have such an amazing rapport on the screen which just enhances a completely compelling story. Come new year’s day, make that much-needed trip out of the house down to your local cinema’s to watch cinema at its finest, its make a hell of a difference in getting over that superhero fatigue.
For more fascinating chat from Chastain, Elba and Sorkin listen to the full press conference below.
Molly’s Game hits UK cinemas on December 1st