Producer Amy Pascal worked at lightning speed alongside Kristie Macosko Krieger to get Steven Spielberg’s timely story about ‘Washington Post’ publisher Katharine Graham, editor Ben Bradlee and the Pentagon Papers to the big screen.
As far as Amy Pascal is concerned, she should have been fired a long time ago and become a producer. The former Sony Pictures studio chief, who was unceremoniously let go from the studio in February 2015 after the devastating Sony hack, has scored her first Oscar nomination with The Post alongside fellow producers Steven Spielberg, who also directed the Pentagon Papers drama, and Kristie Macosko Krieger, Spielberg’s producing partner (it’s Krieger’s second nomination after her 2016 nod for Bridge of Spies). Pascal also produced Aaron Sorkin’s Molly’s Game, which is in the running for best adapted screenplay honors. She’s particularly proud of The Post, considering that the movie came together at lightning speed thanks to Spielberg putting aside The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara.
Pascal, 59, and Macosko Krieger, 48, spoke to THR about the unique circumstances surrounding The Post, which pairs Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks on the big screen for the first time and has earned north of $120 million at the global box office.
Amy, you optioned the script in October 2016, sold it to Fox in December and were shooting by the end of May 2017. Is this the fastest you’ve ever made a move?
AMY PASCAL: Yes. I don’t think it’ll ever happen again in the history of the film industry.
Was Steven Spielberg your first choice to direct the film?
PASCAL: He was the dream, but I wasn’t thinking that lofty in the beginning because I knew he was doing something else. I took a shot sending it to Kristie to see if she liked it.
KRISTIE MACOSKO KRIEGER: We got the script over Presidents Day weekend . It took him a week to read it because he was casting the lead for Edgardo Mortara. On March 3, he called Amy and said he wanted to do it. Meryl and Tom were in a few days later. Normally, you have to wait to get the dream cast you want — or you make decisions to go for a lesser cast because you can’t wait. They were able to do it in the right time frame. And then we had a supporting cast that is unparalleled. We got Steven’s first choice in every single role.
Why the sense of urgency?
PASCAL: We — Steven, Kristie, myself — knew this story needed to get told quickly because every damn day, another shoe drops about the Trump administration, and it just is more insane than the next thing. And the movie needed to be part of that conversation.
How was it that Meryl and Tom have never worked together before?
PASCAL: Because Meryl is in Meryl movies, and Tom is in Tom movies. They’re usually the main characters. Luckily for them, this movie was about a relationship of two equals.
What was the biggest challenge in getting to the first day of shooting?
PASCAL: I would say making sure that everybody believed we were telling the authentic story. We wanted it to be the correct portrait of the Grahams, the correct portrait of the Bradlees, the correct portrait of the newsroom, the correct portrait of Nixon and the correct portrait of [Daniel] Ellsberg. We spent time with Ellsberg, members of the Graham and Bradlee families, people who worked at the Post and people who worked at The New York Times.
MACOSKO KRIEGER: We did a script rewrite as well.
PASCAL: It was first written by Liz [Hannah], then by Josh [Singer], and then by Josh and Liz.
And the biggest challenge during the 45-day shoot?
PASCAL: Gosh, Kristie, what? Time?
MACOSKO KRIEGER: Keeping up. We would finish shooting a scene, and before we could even look at the dailies, we were having to get the next set put into the stage. We mainly shot at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn and in White Plains. Steven and I were also in postproduction on Ready Player One. We’ve made movies fast, but never two movies at the same time. It was a delicate balance. While he was shooting The Post, they would download special effects for Ready Player One for him to look at during lunchtime and whenever else he had time.
Amy, after all these years, are you jaded about going to the Oscar ceremony?
PASCAL: Heck no. This is my first nomination as a producer. I pinch myself that I’m alive. I’ve only been a producer for two years. It makes me wish I’d gotten fired a long time ago.
MACOSKO KRIEGER: Everybody would’ve been better off. You’re so good at producing. (Laughter.) PASCAL I am having the time of my life.
Was it a victory when the Trump White House asked to watch The Post, considering the president’s repeated “fake news” attacks on the newspaper and the media in general?
MACOSKO KRIEGER: We don’t know whether he himself actually watched it.
PASCAL: He didn’t call us and give us his critique, that’s for sure.
Is there a place for political speeches at the Oscars?
PASCAL: If they’re good.
MACOSKO KRIEGER: Well said, Amy Pascal.
This story first appeared in a February standalone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.