Ron Millennor, Executive Sports Producer -
Let me make this perfectly clear, Frost/Nixon is one outstanding movie. In fact, it's so good I think it should be required viewing at every high school in America. Director Ron Howard has woven a bit of history about two talking heads into a cinematic masterpiece. And what drives this film is a pair of stellar performances turned in by Frank Langella and Michael Sheen. Langella beautifully plays President Richard M. Nixon. He doesn't look like or sound like the former president however, he somehow manages to embody the late leader perfectly. Almost as amazing is Sheen's take on British talk show host David Frost. Perfect casting for both.
As Frost watches a disgraced Nixon leave the White House for the last time he gets an idea...he wants to get the first interview. But his three year quest for a sit down with Nixon has nothing to do with getting to the truth and everything to do with garnering more fame for himself. His drive is fueled by a desire to win over an American audience that had, so far, eluded him. Meanwhile, Nixon's motives for granting an interview were no more noble...he wanted money and a chance to clear his besmirched name. But that combination of misguided mind sets eventually turned into one of the most poignant and important set of interviews in our country's history.
After a long negotiation Nixon finally agrees to a series of interviews and both sides assemble teams to prepare for the battle. Nixon is prepped by an ex Marine, Col Jack Brennan (a very serious Kevin Bacon). Meanwhile, Frost enlist's the aid of a pair of journalists Bob Zelnick (the wonderful Oliver Platt) and James Reston (Sam Rockwell) whose disdain for the former president all but consumes him. Through the camera they want to give Nixon the trial he never had.
Nixon owns the first several interviews, fillibustering his way through, barely letting Frost get a word in. It's in that final interview where history is made. And this is where Langella is at his best. Not so much with his words but with his face. His tortured look says it all as he finally cracks and gives a wounded country what its been longing for...admission "I let down the American people", a beaten, sullen Nixon says.
Director Howard took some dramatic license, including a fictional scene where a drunk Nixon called Frost the night before their final interview and rambles on about both of them being victims of a class system that will always frown on them...this never happened, but it's a very powerful scene that allows us see the vulnerable side of the man.