A couple of years ago there was a lot of buzz around Rodham, a screenplay about—who else?—Hillary Rodham Clinton. The script appeared on the 2012 Black List. The End Of The Tour’s James Ponsoldt became attached to direct. Speculation as to which star would play Clinton ran rampant. Now with Clinton set to accept the Democratic nomination for president later this week in Philadelphia, the movie’s writer is reflecting on the Clinton with whom he became obsessed. In the piece for Politico Magazine Young Il Kim explains how he was struggling and searching for an idea when he homed in on Clinton thanks to that iconic photo of the Situation Room during the killing of Osama Bin Laden.
But Kim found that he wasn’t as interested in the latter-day Clinton as he was in the Clinton of the early 1970s. Then she was the woman who left D.C. after working on the Watergate committee to go to Arkansas and be with Bill. “Many people today think of her as this calculating, always-on politician, but at arguably the most critical moment of her life, she chose love over her ambition,” Kim writes, noting that as he wrote he found that he “actually felt mad at her for her decision.” Kim later reflects on how Clinton has changed.
Of course, I’m still a bit sad the Hillary of my script doesn’t exist anymore. Hillary the politician today is definitely Mrs. Clinton, not Ms. Rodham—a character totally remade by the challenges and obstacles of her 40 years in politics. This isn’t that uncommon. The tragedy of politics is that everyone has ideals that they want to fight for when they run for the first time or work their first campaign, but you have to make compromises to build consensus. At some point, you realize you cannot be tethered to your ideals, because you must focus on building consensus. It’s the same in Hollywood—just like the director or the actor who realizes that artful indie stuff doesn’t pay the bills.
So will we ever see it on screen? In 2015, The Wrap reported that Lionsgate had dropped the film. Kim, however, says producers want production to get off the ground in 2017. For now, Kim’s piece is a compelling argument for why he wanted to illuminate this part of Clinton’s past.