Tag Archives: Michael Sheen

Clinton-Blair Film Could Never Have Gotten Made for Big Screen, Says ‘Special Relationship’ Director Richard Loncraine

Dennis Quaid, Michael Sheen "The Special Relationship" HBO photo

Esteemed filmmaker Richard Loncraine reports that his ‘The Special Relationship’ movie — debuting on HBO tonight (5/29) — is being released theatrically in countries around the globe, save for the United Kingdom, where it will be shown on the BBC.

‘It will be interesting to see how a cinema audience accepts this subject,’ he says of the drama that sheds behind-the-scenes light on the relationship between President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Tony Blair in the ’90s. ‘Is it the kind of film people will spend money on a babysitter to go see?’

With dazzling performances by Dennis Quaid as Clinton, Michael Sheen as Blair, Hope Davis as Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Helen McCrory as Cherie Blair, ‘The Special Relationship’ will undoubtedly be remembered at awards time. However, Loncraine doubts it could have gotten made for the big screen ‘in the present studio or independent film environment.’ He feels the same way about his Emmy-laden ‘Band of Brothers’ and ‘The Gathering Storm’ as well. ‘This is the fourth film I’ve done for HBO and they’ve been a real pleasure,’ adds the director, whose feature credits include such fare as ‘The Missionary,’ ‘Richard III,’ ‘Firewall’ and ‘My One and Only.’

He candidly tells us that ‘The Special Relationship’ ‘really wasn’t much of a challenge for me, to be honest. It was an odd one for me. Peter Morgan decided directing wasn’t for him on this project, and I came in four weeks before principle photography,’ he says, referring to the play and screenwriter, who’d been planning to make his directing debut with the cable film. ‘Usually, directors have been working six months on a production before shooting starts, the last three months of which are very stressful and involve things like not enough money, or arguing with the studio. I didn’t have any of that, so I wasn’t as exhausted as directors usually are.’

He points out that HBO insisted everything be vetted for accuracy, which he did find demanding, especially since, ‘I’m not a particularly political animal.’ Much of the material was new to him, in fact. ‘I was struck by the realization that without Clinton’s infidelity, the world be a different place today. Obviously it was harmful to his wife and family, but it wasn’t like he declared war on South America. It’s stunning to think that such a relatively small event had such enormous repercussions from then on.’

MEANINGFUL DAY: Joe Mantegna, who marks his ninth year of hosting PBS’s National Memorial Day Concert before a crowd of hundreds of thousands on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol this weekend, has been met with much appreciation from veterans, active service members and their loved ones. But he’s not one to take thank-yous for his participation in the music-filled event that celebrates and memorializes the sacrifices made by troops past and present. ‘I mean, look, there’s no reason to thank us. The whole point of this is to thank them. I realize this is probably the most important thing I do all year,’ says the ‘Criminal Minds’ star.

‘The fact I have a career and have a good life and all that is due to the fact that we have people in the military who’ve been out there protecting us. There’s nothing to thank us about. I’m glad to do it.’

For the fifth year in a row, he co-hosts with pal Gary Sinise. This year’s event (check local listings) will include Lionel Richie, Brad Paisley, Blythe Danner, Dennis Haysbert, Yolanda Adams and Colin Powell.

THE VROOM VROOM ROOM: Supermodel-turned-super mogul Kathy Ireland has now turned to the world of super motors.  She has become the most recent celeb (David Letterman and the late Paul Newman come to mind) to become part owner of a major racing team — and car 43 will be carrying her brand out onto the Indie 500 this Sunday (5/30) with none other than John Andretti at the wheel.  The Kathy Ireland Home division of her Kathy Ireland WorldWide design and marketing empire is joining racing legend Richard Petty and Window World as sponsors of this top Memorial Day 500 entry.

Dennis Quaid Feels Empathy Toward Bill Clinton

Dennis Quaid as Bill Clinton "The Special Relationship" HBO photo

For anyone who lived through the Clinton administration, Dennis Quaid’s performance in HBO’s May 29 “The Special Relationship” just might evoke a shiver or two. Although he doesn’t – by conscious choice – look like a twin of William Jefferson Clinton, he inhabits the role of the 42nd President down to the set of his mouth in angry moments.

And yet, Quaid admits, “I was kind of shocked when they asked me to do the role. It just seemed such a daunting task – getting the voice, the mannerisms.” However, he tells us, “I have a philosophy that sometimes you should do the thing that frightens you most, because it’s probably the thing you need to do to overcome your fear. Fear is a great motivator.”
The hardest part was “just capturing his spirit,” says Quaid. “I didn’t want to do a Saturday night skit of him. I wanted to make him into a human being. I was lucky I had four months to prepare,” he adds.

Quaid, who’s had his own relationship with Clinton — including several rounds of golf – admits he’s thought quite a bit about how the ex-Commander in Chief will feel about his portrayal and the film in general.

“Better me than Darrel Hammond,” he says with a smile. Then, more seriously, he adds, “I’ve seen the movies (playwright/screenwriter) Peter Morgan has done before – ‘Frost/Nixon,’ ‘The Queen…’ I felt they were empathetic portrayals, that I could understand these people a little more after seeing them. That was obviously an attraction. At the same time, I know certainly there are certain part of my life I wouldn’t want to have made into movie, and I understand the sensitivity involved in having those portrayed,” adds Quaid, who knows what it’s like to go through the tabloid grinder via the all-too-public ending of his marriage to Meg Ryan and his substance abuse problems of the 1980s.

“The Special Relationship” focuses on the relationship between Clinton and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (again played to perfection by Michael Sheen), and does go into the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal that led to Clinton’s impeachment. Quaid says, however, that “I think I have a lot more respect for him now than I did before playing him. He was already the smartest man I’d met. What he was able to accomplish in his Presidency is really remarkable – even during the scandal.”