Gary Oldman: Contender Director Bowed to Political Pressure

Published October 19th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

The writer and director of The Contender, a top ten Box Office hit/political thriller, bowed to pressure from Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks studio to re-cut the movie into left-leaning propaganda, actor Gary Oldman said in November's Premiere magazine. 

The Contender stars Joan Allen as a Democratic senator nominated by the president, played by Jeff Bridges to become vice president. Oldman plays a conservative congressman trying to derail her nomination.  

Oldman and executive producer Douglas Urbanski said they felt the actor's character was the hero of writer and director Rod Lurie's original script. But they say Lurie agreed to cuts suggested by DreamWorks, which is headed by President Elect Al Gore supporters Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen.  

The tone of the new edit vilifies Oldman's character, Urbanski said.  

"If your names are Spielberg, Katzenberg and Geffen, you can't have a film with a Republican character who is at all sympathetic," Urbanski told the magazine.  

Oldman said of Lurie, "to have a friend and director not go in and fight for you is just deeply, deeply disappointing. ... I am very hurt by it."  

Lurie said he shortened the independently financed movie by about 15 minutes after DreamWorks bought it, and at Spielberg's suggestion added "ennobling music" to an impassioned speech by Allen's character.  

But Lurie said the movie's political stripes did not change because of the DreamWorks deal.  

Lurie said Oldman seems too caught up in his character.  

"Gary is emblematic of what many actors go through: a kind of Stockholm syndrome in which they begin to sympathize with their captors, and in this case, the captors are the characters they play," Lurie said. – 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (

You may also like


Sign up to our newsletter for exclusive updates and enhanced content