Why You Should See the Movie Truth, According to Elisabeth Moss (and Us)
The one thing we're all searching for in life? Truth. Too bad it's hard to figure it out most of the time. The struggle of what's real and what's distorted is at the heart of the film named Truth, out Oct. 16, starring Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, and Elisabeth Moss.
The movie tells the story of the 2004 downfall of storied CBS News and 60 Minutes journalist Dan Rather (played by Redford) after it was discovered that documents he quoted as fact referencing President George W. Bush's evasion of service may have been fabricated. As a result of the inconclusive authenticity of the notes in question, which have since come to be named the Killian documents, Rather was politely forced out of his position. His close friend and Peabody Award–winning producer behind the story, Mary Mapes (played by Blanchett), was fired.
The plot of the film is adapted from Mapes's 2005 memoir, Truth and Duty: The Press, The President, and the Privilege of Power. Therefore, as the scorned, tossed-away producer, she paints a portrait of corporate corruption and the witch-hunt that ensued to knock out the team that produced the story, rather than showing CBS standing behind its journalists. It's a fascinating tale of who's right, who's wrong, and what's more important: the real truth or the truth that is created in the media. After all, the Killian documents were never a problem until a blog surfaced about the potential—and still unconfirmed—factual error.
For Elisabeth Moss, who plays Lucy Scott, the journalist and professor on Rather and Mapes's team that helped produced the 60 Minutes segment in question, she feels that this film is an necessary reminder of the consequences of the ever-developing era of information overload. "This is a really important story to hear in this age of the 24-hour news cycle," she told InStyle when we discussed the film at the Toronto International Film Festival. "Things are happening so quickly and everybody is trying to get the story first and worrying about the truth of the story is secondary. This movie serves as a good reminder that journalism is something to be respected and it’s something to be revered. There’s a responsibility on journalists. That responsibility, if shirked, can have really dire consequences."
"I think that in our society, when anyone can put stuff on the internet, you search something and it will come up as fact when it’s not," said Moss, who plays a journalism professor in the film. "It's interesting to realize the power that we have over the information that’s out there—and that power is important to respect."
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Ultimately, the movie stands by Rather, and we found it particularly fascinating the way the plot unfolded to show the larger issues at stake when a story comes to light in painting a president—at the time, a presidential nominee—in a negative way. The film brings forth the questions: Who's side is anyone on? Is it all about the money? Where is the integrity? Why is it always about the money?
Moss agrees. "I’ve always been a bit of a pessimist as far as the truth that you get on certain programs, and I’ve always been realistic about the information that we get," she said. "In our society, anyone can start a blog. Anyone can have a website. Anyone can update Wikipedia and it's treated as fact. It is an interesting thing when you realize the power than we have over the information, and that power is an important one to respect."
So, does she have any interest in becoming an investigative journalist, now that she's played one in the movies? "God no," she said. "I have no inkling to write. Nothing could be worse to me." Too bad she plays a darn good reporter in the movies.
Watch a trailer for the biographical drama Truth below.