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Oliver Stone: Snowden was "wary" of biopic

Biopic about whistleblower hits theatres Friday
Posted at 9:08 PM, Sep 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-16 21:08:38-04

Getting legendary filmmaker Oliver Stone to make a movie about Edward Snowden was not an easy thing to do.

Getting the former NSA contractor on board with the film was not easy either.

It took the pair a few visits in Russia, where Snowden is currently living in asylum, before either of them were ready to turn his story into a major Hollywood production.

"I mean, I was wary of the film, as he was wary of the movie," Oliver Stone told 7 Eyewitness News during the premiere of "Snowden" at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Stone said if he hadn't received Snowden's support, he likely would not have gone ahead with the movie.  The way the story was told was also of primary concern.

"What happened was historic, but I wanted it to be a thriller at the same time. I didn't want it to be a documentary," Stone said.

"Snowden" opened in theaters on September 16th.  A day before the release, the U.S. Congressional Intelligence Committee issued a scathing report, accusing Snowden of leaking highly sensitive information that "caused tremendous damage to national security."  The report suggests most of the leaked documents had little to do with Americans' individual privacy.

Speaking with the stars in the film, it is highly unlikely they would agree with the report's findings.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the man who portrays Snowden in the film, believes the leaks was guided by a motivation to expose the U.S. government's practices. He hopes the film will do the same.

"If people are going to have conversations about what the government is accountable for, about what the internet is and what it's becoming in the future, that makes [Edward Snowden] happy."

Shailene Woodley, who plays Snowden's girlfriend Lindsay Mills, believes Snowden's fundamental priority was to question how America's democracy is working.

"In order for [America] to be a democracy, the people govern the government. But the people have to be aware of information that the government has that's directly affecting the people, especially people's privacy, in order to hold the government accountable. What Ed did was remind us as public citizens that there are things that are happening that we're not aware of, so we can't hold our government accountable," Woodley said.