When news broke in June 2013 that Edward Snowden had leaked classified information that revealed the NSA was gathering private data from American citizens, everyone knew his name. But the man behind the scandal remained a mystery. Now, award-winning screenwriter and director Oliver Stone is taking it upon himself to tell the inside story of what happened in his new biographical thriller, Snowden, in theaters now.
"What interested me is his [Snowden's] behavior, motivation, and his relationship with this woman [girlfriend Lindsay Mills]," Stone told InStyle at an intimate gathering at a sprawling apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side (formerly owned by actor Eli Wallach). Everyone was there to celebrate his new film and the related book ($20; amazon.com). "It's about a man in the hot seat, because he loves someone and could have a very nice life with her and continue on peacefully without disrupting it," he added.
As many well know, that's not what happened. Snowden is currently living in Moscow, where the Russians granted him asylum for one year—and both Stone and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays the title role in the film, met with him there to further develop the screenplay. "He was always my first choice," Stone said of casting Gordon-Levitt. "He's smart; he's a computer guy; he feels and looks like Snowden. He's a very sly and intuitive actor."
Inside the party, guests sipped on white wine and enjoyed passed hors d'oeuvres like mini sliders and ricotta toasts while engaging in deep-seated discussions about Snowden, and whether or not he would be granted a pardon. According to Stone, the odds are long. "The goal for a dramatist is to tell a good story well and to make people sit through the movie in suspense wondering what's going to happen next," he added. "I think I achieved that goal."
Watch the trailer for Snowden above, and make sure to catch the movie in theaters this weekend.