Bridge of Spies
Director Steven Spielberg has often tackled seminal historical events throughout his career. A history enthusiast, his knowledge of the Cold War dates back to childhood when his father told stories of the deep-seated feelings of animosity and distrust that existed between the U.S. and Soviet Union, stories he still remembers today.
“My father had gone to Russia during the Cold War on a foreign exchange right after Francis Gary Powers was shot down,” remembers Spielberg. “My dad and three other associates from General Electric stood in line because they were putting Powers’ flight suit, helmet and the remains of the U-2 on display for everybody in Russia to see what America had done. He was about an hour away from the front of the line when a couple of Russian military officials approached my dad and asked for their passports, saw they were Americans and got them to the head of the line, not to convenience them, because after they got to the head of the line this Russian pointed to the U-2 and then pointed to my dad and his friends and said, ‘Look what your country is doing to us,’ which he repeated angrily several times before handing back their passports.”
“I never forgot that story,” he says, “and because of that I never forgot what happened to Francis Gary Powers.”
These were the fevered years of the Cold War, a war that involved information, not combat, where words were the ultimate weapon. It was a time when anti-Communist propaganda, “Duck and Cover” educational videos and the media’s sensationalist coverage of events like the Rosenberg trial bred fear and hatred across the country….hatred stemming from fear of the unknown. No one was safe, and it was an especially dangerous time to be in the headlines for defending a Russian spy…
A dramatic thriller set against the backdrop of a series of historic events, DreamWorks Pictures/Fox 2000 Pictures’ “Bridge of Spies” is the story of James Donovan, an insurance claims lawyer from Brooklyn who finds himself thrust into the center of the Cold War when the CIA enlists his support to negotiate the release of a captured American U-2 pilot.
Directed by three-time Academy Award® winner Steven Spielberg, the film stars: two-time Oscar® winner Tom Hanks as lawyer James Donovan; three-time Tony Award® and two-time Olivier Award winner Mark Rylance as arrested Soviet spy Rudolf Abel; Scott Shepherd as CIA officer Hoffman; Academy Award nominee Amy Ryan as Donovan’s wife, Mary; Sebastian Koch as East German lawyer Wolfgang Vogel; seven-time Emmy Award® winner and Oscar nominee Alan Alda as Thomas Watters, a partner at Donovan’s law firm; Austin Stowell as downed Air Force pilot Francis Gary Powers; Mikhail Gorevoy as Soviet official Ivan Schischkin; and Will Rogers as Frederic Pryor, an American student detained in East Berlin. “Bridge of Spies” is produced by Spielberg, Golden Globe® winner Marc Platt and Kristie Macosko Krieger with Adam Somner, Daniel Lupi, Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King serving as executive producers. The screenplay is by Matt Charman and three-time Oscar winners Ethan Coen & Joel Coen. “Bridge of Spies” will be released in U.S. theaters on October 16, 2015 by Touchstone Pictures.
~ THE INCREDIBLE STORY INSPIRED BY TRUE EVENTS ~
In the 1950s during the early stages of the Cold War, tensions are rife between the U.S. and USSR, so when the FBI arrests Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), a Soviet agent living in New York, the fear and paranoia only escalate. Charged with sending coded messages back to Russia, Abel is questioned by the FBI but refuses to cooperate, declining their offer to turn on his country, and is detained in federal prison pending trial.
The government, in need of an independent attorney to take on Abel’s defense, approaches James Donovan (Tom Hanks), an insurance lawyer from Brooklyn. But Donovan, a former prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials and highly regarded within the legal community for his profound skills as a negotiator, has little experience with allegations of this magnitude and isn’t eager to get involved. Advocating such a deeply unpopular defense would make him a public figure and could subject his family to scrutiny, disdain and even, potentially, danger.
Donovan eventually agrees to represent Abel, as he is committed to the principles of justice and the protection of basic human rights and wants to ensure Abel receives a fair trial regardless of his citizenship. As he prepares his defense strategy, a bond begins to develop between the two men, one built on mutual respect and understanding. Donovan admires Abel’s strength and loyalty and mounts an impassioned plea to prevent him from receiving the death penalty, arguing that his actions were those of a good soldier following instructions on his country’s behalf.
Sometime later, an American U-2 spy plane is shot down over Soviet airspace while on a reconnaissance mission, and the pilot, Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell), is convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison in Russia. The CIA, while categorically denying any knowledge of the mission, is fearful that Powers may be coerced into revealing classified information. Having witnessed Donovan’s impressive skills in the courtroom, CIA operative Hoffman (Scott Shepherd) reaches out to recruit him for a national security mission of great importance, and because of his incredible foresight, Donovan is soon on his way to Berlin to negotiate a prisoner exchange between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, driven by a love for his country, unwavering belief in his convictions and a tremendous amount of courage. Once he arrives however, Donovan learns that an American student named Frederic Pryor (Will Rogers) has been arrested in East Berlin while trying to return to his home in the West, and despite the CIA’s direction to focus only on the pilot, he decides to negotiate for the release of both the pilot and the student, as he refuses to leave anyone behind.
~ BUILDING THE BRIDGE: FROM SCRIPT TO SCREEN ~
When London-based playwright and television writer Matt Charman stumbled upon a footnote in a biography on John F. Kennedy that referenced an American lawyer whom the President had sent to Cuba to negotiate the release of 1,113 prisoners, his curiosity was piqued. Some quick research yielded a name he did not recognize, that of James Donovan, a successful insurance claims lawyer from Brooklyn. But it was the story of what took place several years earlier which he found most interesting. Donovan had defended a Soviet agent accused of espionage during the Cold War, and while he specialized in insurance law and had not practiced criminal law for some time, was then asked to negotiate one of the most high-profile prisoner exchanges in history.
Charman had little knowledge of the inner-workings of the film industry. Nevertheless, he flew to Hollywood in hopes of convincing a studio to greenlight a film based on Donovan’s remarkable true story. While Donovan’s role was not well known in the annals of Cold War history, Charman pitched DreamWorks Pictures a gripping tale of an idealistic man navigating the world of national security and subterfuge. The executives at DreamWorks were immediately intrigued.
“When I heard the story, it knocked my socks off,” says producer Kristie Macosko Krieger, who was a co-producer on “Lincoln” and is based at DreamWorks. “Not many people know the story of James Donovan and what he accomplished during this period of U.S. history, but it sounded like something that was right up Steven's alley.”
Producer Marc Platt, whose credits include “Into the Woods,” “Drive” and the upcoming “The Girl on the Train,” was familiar with Donovan’s story and was also aware of director Steven Spielberg’s interest in the Cold War—and history in general—and felt it was ideally suited for the director’s sensibilities. “As a filmmaker, Steven has studied some great iconic characters and can re-create history in an extraordinarily cinematic way. He’s the perfect filmmaker to tell a story like this.”
And they were both right. The story was part legal drama, part thriller and part historical epic, and Spielberg was riveted. But it was the character of James Donovan that he found most appealing. The story of a well-respected lawyer living the life of a typical family man in the ‘50s who took on a dangerous assignment and prevailed through sheer instinct and conviction of principle, had enormous cinematic potential.
“As a youngster growing up in the ‘50s and ‘60s, I had a tremendous amount of awareness of what was happening during the Cold War, but I didn’t know anything about the exchange of Rudolf Abel for Francis Gary Powers,” says Spielberg. “I knew about Powers because growing up everyone had heard that his U-2 spy plane had been shot down and that he had been put on public display at a very public trial, but the story kind of ended with a spectacular shoot down. I didn’t realize that something had happened subsequent to his capture, which was this very backroom exchange, this spy swap between Abel, a Soviet spy, and Powers, the American spy pilot. So there was a lot to this story that really pulled me in.”
Charman returned to London to start writing, and within six weeks delivered a thought-provoking, well-crafted script that generated a wonderful feeling of suspense between the multiple stories. Says Spielberg, “Matt did a good job of connecting the Powers story with the Abel/Donovan story.”
It was a clever, and important, juxtaposition because Powers was technically doing the same thing Abel was arrested for, only from the air, and Charman knew that structurally he needed to make all of the different stories speak to one another. Platt agreed, saying, “Matt did a fantastic job, and once he was finished, we brought his draft to the Coen brothers, who write with a tone which is real yet has a particular edge to it, which was perfect for this story.”
The Coen brothers, whose impressive filmography includes titles like “No Country for Old Men,” “The Big Lebowski” and “Fargo,” immediately dove in, immersing themselves in the language of the period and incorporating Tom Hanks’ persona into the character of Donovan, expertly interweaving this remarkable experience in his life into a powerful story that captured the essence of the man.
“Joel and Ethan got us very, very deep into the characters,” says Spielberg. “They really instilled a sense of irony and a little bit of absurd humor, not absurd in the sense that movies can take license and be absurd, but that real life is absurd. They are great observers of real life, as we all know from their great august body of work, and were able to bring that to the story.”
One theme woven throughout the texture and framework of the Coen brothers’ screenplay which struck a chord with the director was the notion that spies looked like everyone else. He explains, “It wasn’t just shadows and light and spies in a stereotypical way, but it was spies as people that we wouldn’t even think twice about, we wouldn’t even notice them to begin with, let alone figure out that they’re here to do a mission against our national security. Between Matt Charman and Joel and Ethan Coen, I was in the hands of three wonderful storytellers.”
Once a finished screenplay was in hand, plans to make the film quickly accelerated. A stellar production team was soon in place, including: two-time Academy Award® winner Janusz Kaminski as director of photography; Oscar® winner Adam Stockhausen as production designer; Kasia Walicka Maimone as costume designer; three-time Academy Award winner Michael Kahn, A.C.E. as editor; and 12-time Oscar nominee Thomas Newman as composer.
“Steven loves authenticity,” says Macosko Krieger, “and we assembled an amazing group of artists to work with him…some of whom we had worked with before, and some who were new to us.”
~ BRINGING THE CHARACTERS TO LIFE ~
As a child, the 8mm war movies Steven Spielberg made in his backyard were often set in World War II, a recurring subject in a number of the films he would one day direct—titles ranging from “Schindler’s List,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “Empire of the Sun” to “1941” and the “Indiana Jones” films—but until now, none were set in the world of international espionage. “I love spy movies,” says Spielberg. “I love John le Carré, the James Bond movies, Mad magazine and the infamous ‘Spy vs. Spy’ column that I grew up with, so spying has always been on my mind.”
With “Bridge of Spies,” the characters truly are the story, and James Donovan, an insurance lawyer who is lured into the powerful corridors of the FBI and CIA, is the heart of the story. When it came to casting the crucial role, the choice had always been obvious: one of the most iconic actors working today, Tom Hanks.
“There is no one better suited for this role than Tom Hanks,” says producer Kristie Macosko Krieger. “James Donovan is just an ordinary guy…he is like my best friend’s dad. He was a guy who did his job and then gets thrown into this incredible international story. That just doesn’t happen, but people think of Tom Hanks as everyman, and that’s why he is so brilliant as James Donovan.”
Hanks and Spielberg share a unique, creative relationship, one that elevates any film with which they’re involved. Previous collaborations include “Saving Private Ryan,” “Catch Me If You Can” and “The Terminal,” as well as the Emmy® and Golden Globe®-winning HBO miniseries based on Stephen Ambrose’s book, “Band of Brothers,” and the Emmy-winning “The Pacific,” both of which they produced.
Says Spielberg, “James Donovan was what you would call a stand-up kind of guy, someone who stands up for what he believes in, which, in his case, is justice for all, regardless of what side of the Iron Curtain you are on. He was only interested in the letter of the law. And Tom’s own morality and his own sense of equality and fairness, and the fact that he does such good things in the world by wisely using his celebrity, made him the perfect fit.”
“Tom is a history buff,” adds producer Marc Platt. “You can tell this from some of the great miniseries and films he’s produced and acted in. But he also has a particular interest in this period. The Cold War and East/West Berlin politics is something he knows a good deal about.”
Based on the caliber of filmmakers already in place, Hanks, who has starred in such diverse films as “Philadelphia,” “Forrest Gump,” “Cast Away” and “Toy Story,” was inclined to come on board without even reading the script. Once he did, however, he knew it had the potential to become one of the most exciting projects in his distinguished career. “This subject matter has always fascinated me, because of the area and because of the time,” says Hanks. “I knew that Francis Gary Powers was a U-2 pilot who was shot down by the Soviet Union, that it was a huge international incident and that there was a trade that got him back, but I didn’t know any of the details or who James Donovan was.”
He continues, “I love reading history and finding out something brand new—particularly about a subject that I think I'm well versed in—and when that happens, man, it's like winning the lottery.”
Hanks was also fascinated by the bond that develops between Donovan and Rudolf Abel. He explains, “What he developed with Rudolf Abel was, first, a very completely professional relationship as an advocate. He even says, ‘I am your advocate, my job is to represent you and bring you the best version of American justice that I can surmise, and here's what I think that justice needs to be,’ and he was dogged in his pursuit of that. He also developed a great personal relationship with Abel because he felt as though he was fighting for a good guy, both personally and in terms of what he stood for.”
To Spielberg, Donovan represents the ideals of a genuinely altruistic person, someone who had the tenacity to put Abel’s defense ahead of his own comfort and safety because he truly believed that the law needed to be respected. “It brought a lot of tension to Donovan’s family, the same kind of tension that I imagine my own dad went through when he told people he spent three weeks in the Soviet Union at a time when if you even mentioned the Soviet Union in the wrong way, you could be accused of complicity,” says Spielberg.
“Tom is the perfect collaborator,” adds Spielberg. “He will try anything and he’s got a thousand ideas and is open to a thousand ideas from other people. He’s this incredibly creative vessel that just wants to figure things out in a more original way.”
Says Macosko Krieger, “Watching Tom and Steven work is such a joy, such a pleasure. They are both really masters at what they do, and you can see it. They have such fluidity and a sense of ease with each other, which really brings out the best in one another.”
Just as crucial was finding an actor to play a captured Soviet spy with divergent loyalties and surprising depth who was interesting enough that the audience would be able to feel his humanity and thoughtfulness…and someone who could hold his own opposite Hanks, as well.
Spielberg has always appreciated actors who portray their characters in an honest and truthful way, and as a result, was drawn to Mark Rylance. For years he had been following the career of the British actor and was eager to work with him, just looking for the right part. “Mark is one of the most extraordinary actors working anywhere,” Spielberg says. “I saw him in ‘Twelfth Night’ and that pretty much cinched it for me.”
For Rylance, an actor best known for his acclaimed stage work in such productions as “Jerusalem” and “Boeing-Boeing” and the recent PBS miniseries “Wolf Hall,” the opportunity to work with Spielberg was incredibly humbling. And while Rudolf Abel was a divisive figure, his selfless patriotism earns the respect and admiration of Donovan, which Rylance found tremendously appealing.
Rylance also found the story moving and incredibly entertaining, and he appreciated the fact that it had the potential to really cause people to think. “This is a film about a man who does the right thing at the right time in the right place, and it’s an important story.”
“What Mark brings to the role is a completely-realized self-assuredness. Mark will not take a moment and throw it completely out and come in and completely redo it,” says Hanks. “What Mark will do instead is construct the character in the scene that slow little motions of feint, either one way or the next, will bring a new jolt of energy to, but is still the same character he built.”
Abel, whose real name was Vilyam Fisher, passed away in 1971 and was rarely photographed or interviewed while alive. According to Rylance, “We don’t really know all that much about him, other than the fact that he received and passed on messages at various drop sites throughout New York using a hollow coin. He was, what you call, a sleeper spy. Abel had been in the United States for several years before he began these clandestine activities, and he wasn’t the chief organizer of the spy-ring, he just carried out the mission. But when he was caught, the U.S. government made him out to be a little more important than he actually was.”
In Brooklyn, where he had created a simple existence for himself as a painter, Abel is captured and doesn’t try to hide his past. He remains tight-lipped and reveals no information about his activities in the U.S. or connections to anyone in Moscow, frustrating the FBI to no end. Says Hanks, “Abel was just a guy doing his job. He's a spy, and we have guys over there doing the same thing for our country. I believe that Abel was surprised to hear this argument from a man who was his advocate…it was not just some sort of legalistic ploy on his part, it was what he believed. It was an irrefutable fact, and that played itself out through the relationship.”
The real Abel was, in fact, a very-skilled artist, something Spielberg chose to focus on in the film’s opening scene. He explains, “How we see ourselves and how other people see us, what we hide in order for others to discover something hidden…that was all part of this idea I had to start the film on Mark Rylance’s face playing Rudolf Abel, then to pull back and discover that he’s actually studying his face because he’s doing a self-portrait.”
Spielberg continues, “It gave me a kind of stylistic theme to continue to think about, like how do we see ourselves…is that actually who we are when we paint what we look like, or is that our idea of somebody we want others to see, which is what spies do. They have to go into disguise and blend in and actually disappear to be successful. I just thought that was a good way of starting the story on the right thematic note.”
Rylance had nothing but praise for Hanks. “Tom saw me in ‘Twelfth Night’ in Los Angeles in 2003 before the production was famous and he was one of the first actors to come to it and to come backstage afterward and talk to the cast, which was very exciting for everyone,” he says. “But what surprised me the most about Tom is that he loves to make people laugh and has this very goofy sense of humor, which immediately puts people at ease.”
Actress Amy Ryan, who received an Oscar® nomination for her role as a hardened welfare mom in “Gone Baby Gone” and was most recently seen in the award-winning “Birdman,” signed on as Donovan’s supportive but strong-willed wife, Mary. In discussing what attracted her to the project she says, “Most screenplays take 10 or 15 pages before you get a sense of who the characters really are, but we find out that James Donovan is a fast-talking lawyer in the first few pages. Plus, I liked the fact that this woman, Mary Donovan, wasn’t just a ‘Yes dear, of course dear’ kind of wife. She had things of substance to say and really good, strong, smart opinions about the world in which her husband was stepping foot into, and I found that genuinely appealing.”
Before filming began, the actress had the opportunity to meet Mary’s granddaughter. “I saw her family’s wedding albums and vacation photos and heard firsthand stories where I found out that Mary was born in Bay Ridge, raised in a strong Irish Catholic family, graduated from Marymount College and eventually settled down in Park Slope,” Ryan explains. “Mary was proud of what her husband was doing, but she didn’t like the attention it drew to her family and worried that their children might be in danger.”
Ryan’s biggest challenge was making her character, a woman in the midst of extremely-trying circumstances, believable. Says Platt, “Amy’s portrayal of Mary has us rooting for her, but we also feel her conflict over wanting to protect her family. Her husband’s involvement with the case brings the family some danger and causes friends to sort of drop away, and you feel the tug-of-war within her to want to protect and love her husband and do what he thinks is right, and yet to protect her family at the same time, and you love her for that conflict.”
Ryan was especially thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Hanks, finding him generous, both in spirit and energy. “I was very impressed with the amount of enthusiasm he was able to bring to each scene, and he’s had so much experience as an actor that I tried to listen and observe as much as I could,” she says. “In addition to all the technical sides of knowing where the camera is going to be and where the lights are, he is still able to inhabit the scene so fully and truthfully…that is an amazing skill.”
And for Hanks, the feeling was mutual. “Working with Amy was amazing…I was always thinking that it looked as if she was hardly doing anything, and yet she was doing everything all at the same time.”
With the story’s protagonists in place, the filmmakers set out to cast the supporting roles integral to Donovan’s story, consulting with New York-based casting director Ellen Lewis. Says Spielberg, “There have been many times when I wanted to use Ellen but she was working with Scorsese, and this was an opportunity where Marty wasn’t working and Ellen was available, which was great because I wanted to use predominantly stage actors.”
Theater actor Scott Shepherd, who received Obie Awards for his performances in “Gatz” and “Poor Theater” and has appeared on-screen in “Side Effects,” was cast as Hoffman, the shrewd CIA operations officer. The CIA was looking for a private citizen like Donovan to negotiate the swap in East Berlin so it wouldn’t be governments talking, and it is Hoffman who secures Donovan’s participation in the dangerous mission. But the two men soon go head-to-head as Shepherd expects Donovan to value national security over attorney-client privilege.
When Donovan accepts the assignment, Hoffman stresses that he will be on his own. Neither the U.S. nor the Soviet government can have any involvement in the operation…the German Democratic Republic will broker the exchange directly with him. Adds Hanks, “Donovan had given a vociferous, authentic and passion-filled defense for this Soviet spy who was arrested, which was then tabbed by the other side to help facilitate an exchange that would get one spy back to the Soviet Union and another one back to the U.S.”
Donovan believes that Abel was acting honorably, but when he comes across some technicalities in the search and seizure of Abel’s art studio and apartment, begins to question whether Abel received due process at the time of his arrest. Platt explains, “This is basically a guy from the CIA who believes that the most important thing should always be protecting the security of the country, and Donovan has a different set of principles that have to do more with his take on the Constitution…sort of a Constitutional viewpoint versus a national security viewpoint.”
With credits including the landmark television series “M*A*S*H” and the film “The Aviator,” among numerous others, Alan Alda took on the role of Thomas Watters, a senior partner at the law firm of Watters, Cowan & Donovan. “My character sort of edges Donovan out of his job in order to protect the firm,” says Alda. “Watters just wants to protect the firm and prevent Donovan from becoming too idealistic, which was a clever way for the screenwriters to show what Donovan was up against when he agreed to take the case.”
Up-and-coming young American actor Austin Stowell, who was most recently seen in the highly-acclaimed “Whiplash,” is Francis Gary Powers, the young Air Force pilot who joins the CIA to fly covert missions in a U-2 spy plane and is subsequently shot down over the Soviet Union. There, he is imprisoned and subjected to solitary confinement and sleep deprivation, eventually suffering the humiliation of a very public Moscow show trial. Spielberg recommended the actor after watching his dailies from “Public Morals,” a period cop TV drama executive produced by Spielberg, in which Stowell has a starring role.
During the Cold War, the need to gather strategic military information from our adversaries led to the development of the U-2 spy plane by the U.S. A reconnaissance aircraft that flew at heights of 70,000 feet, twice the altitude of a commercial jet, the aircraft was undetectable by Soviet radar. Powers passed away in 1977, but his son, Francis Gary Powers, Jr., has a cameo in the film as a CIA agent involved with the training of the U-2 pilots, or “drivers” as they were commonly referred to at the time.
German actor Sebastian Koch, who starred in the Oscar®-winning film “The Lives of Others” and the action-thriller “A Good Day to Die Hard,” was cast as the petulant, devious East German “lawyer” Wolfgang Vogel, who represents Abel’s so-called family, and with whom Donovan must discuss Abel’s exchange. Vogel works for the Communist government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), which was not recognized by the U.S. government but was desperately trying to become its own country.
Spielberg explains, “Nationalist East Germany was actually shaking their fists at the Soviets, saying, ‘I know you feed and clothe us, and provide for us, but we are not your puppets.” Donovan ends up trading Abel to two different parties: Vogel and the GDR for Frederic Pryor at Checkpoint Charlie and Ivan Schischkin and the Soviets for Powers at Glienicke Bridge.
Russian actor Mikhail Gorevoy, best known to audiences as the Bond villain Vladimir Popov in “Die Another Day,” signed on as the enigmatic Ivan Schischkin, a Soviet official who calls himself an assistant secretary in the Soviet East Embassy in East Berlin but who is, in fact, a high-level KGB operative with whom Donovan must negotiate. The young American actor Will Rogers, who has appeared on-screen in “A Good Marriage,” came on board as Frederic Pryor, an American student arrested in East Berlin, whom Donovan learns about while he is in East Berlin to negotiate Powers’ release and insists must also be part of the exchange.
~ RE-CREATING THE COLD WAR ON-SCREEN ~
The Landscapes: New York, Germany and Poland
While the cast and crew were being assembled, the filmmakers were simultaneously deciding where to shoot the film, hoping to use many of the very places where the events in the story actually took place. After scouting locations in the U.S. and Europe, they settled on New York City; Berlin, Germany; and Wroclaw, Poland.
Structurally the story is a study in shifting moods and environments, opening in Brooklyn in 1957 with the action eventually moving to East Berlin. Because of this, the production utilized two different crews for principal photography: one crew to film scenes in and around New York and a different crew in Germany and Poland, each with its own pre-production schedule and each tasked with effectively creating their own cinematic universe that needed to remain faithful to period details.
Producer Marc Platt explains, “Producing this film was interesting because it was almost like we were making two separate films, which is representative of the extraordinary journey that James Donovan goes on. We first meet him in Brooklyn where he takes on the case, which was one movie, and then he travels unexpectedly to a completely different part of the world, a completely different culture, which felt like an entirely different film.”
Adds producer Kristie Macosko Krieger, “It was pretty complex. We knew we wanted the audience to go on a journey, and we shot, for the most part, in continuity. Because of time constraints we had a few scheduling issues with some of the crew we normally work with, which allowed us to discover some amazing people that we had never used before. We had Adam Stockhausen, who is a brilliant production designer; Kasia Walicka Maimone, our costume designer; and the composer Thomas Newman, and those three really helped infuse the film with vitality.”
“There was not a single day when we didn't show up on the set for the first time and think, Holy cow, this is not just an odd little re-creation…this is a three-dimensional, authentic, holographic representation of what it was,” says Tom Hanks.
Principal photography on “Bridge of Spies” kicked off in September 2014 in Manhattan, and over the next month the production made the most of the city’s diverse architectural styles and its geographically-adjacent boroughs. Cameras manned by cinematographer Janusz Kaminski first rolled in lower Manhattan at Wall Street, filming exteriors of Donovan on the steps of the Federal Courthouse at Foley Square.
Kaminski’s first film with Spielberg was “Schindler’s List” in 1993, and since that time they have worked on more than a dozen films together. According to Platt, “One can start a sentence and the other can finish it, and the result for us as moviegoers is to watch the film come to life and to watch the beauty of it, the look and the feel of it, and that lies in whatever miraculously occurs between Janusz and Steven.”
Renowned for his ability to capture emotional details amid stunning visuals, Kaminski’s primary goal is establishing a cinematic grammar in which to tell the story. Fortunately with “Bridge of Spies,” the outstanding locations, set dressing and costumes provided countless opportunities for the camera.
“What I love about working with Janusz is that I can understand very quickly the stakes that he's going for,” says Hanks. “I can ask him what will be in the shot and he will tell me, so I have the luxury of working with someone like that who will help me, which means a couple of things: I will not screw up the shot, and he will help me get another little moment of James Donovan into a scene.”
Manhattan’s Metro station at Broad Street was the setting for scenes of Rudolf Abel being tailed by the FBI and of Donovan on his way to work, as the producers felt that a live subway system was needed to realistically film a subway car from a station platform. Fortunately New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority was eager to work with the production, allowing access to the subway station very early on a Sunday morning.
The film’s production designer, Adam Stockhausen, a recent Oscar® winner for “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” explains, “We had to work fast in ‘blitz-style,’ which meant swapping out posters and signage, changing lighting fixtures and redressing everything from top to bottom. And then, of course, everything had to be put back in place as quickly as possible.” Interior subway shots were filmed in actual subway cars from the 1960s housed at the New York City Transit Museum.
In midtown Manhattan, the offices of the New York Bar Association, located in a classical historical landmark at 44th Street, provided the ideal setting for Donovan’s law firm, instilling a sense of old-world money and prestige. Multiple shoots in Brooklyn followed, on locations in Flatbush and Brooklyn Heights, as the borough still features a number of period buildings. It was in Ditmas Park, a residential area made up of quaint homes situated on peaceful, tree-lined streets, that Stockhausen found the ideal location for the Donovans’ home: a beautiful, freestanding Victorian home full of charm and period detail with a front porch and small backyard, which helped convey Donovan’s strong connection to his neighborhood.
Interiors of the Donovan home and additional set pieces were built on soundstages at Brooklyn’s Steiner Studios. Says Macosko Krieger, “When I stepped onto the set of Donovan’s home for the very first time it was like I had gone back in time to the late ‘50s and I was having dinner with someone’s family. Adam Stockhausen got every little detail perfect in that house.”
A strong sense of history infused the production once filming began in Europe, as the iconic locations helped depict, in stark images, the horrors to which the East Germans were subjected, instilling a sense of respect for what these people had lived through.
Flughafen Tempelhof Airport in the south-central section of Berlin, where the historic airlifts of 1948 and 1949 took place, was an indispensable location. These airlifts took place when the Soviet Army closed off access to the western part of the city by all other means of transport. Planes from the U.S., Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa transported food and supplies to the city’s inhabitants to prevent them from starving. Spielberg filmed multiple scenes at Tempelhof, including Donovan and Powers’ return home to the U.S. inside a U.S. Army cargo transport plane. Scenes featuring actual U-2 planes, both on the ground and in the air, were shot several months later at Beale Air Force Base in Yuba County, California.
The crash of Powers’ U-2 spy plane was shot via a large screen at Tempelhof, where Stockhausen and his team built a replica of the U-2’s cockpit on a motion base which was used for all the close-ups of Powers in his aircraft. According to Macosko Krieger, “It was amazing to be able to shoot with these old airplanes at beautiful locations like Tempelhof where the events in the story actually took place…you can’t re-create stuff like that.”
Berlin’s historic Glienicke Bridge, where the actual exchange of Abel for Powers took place, was the setting of the story’s historic climax. The Bridge spans the Havel River and is near Wannsee, where the Wannsee Conference with Adolf Eichmann and the other architects of the Holocaust took place. During the war, the Bridge separated East and West Berlin…today it connects the Brandenburg section of Berlin to the suburb of Potsdam.
Scenes of Donovan trying to talk his way past East German guards at the Friedrichstrasse Checkpoint so as to not miss his appointment at the Soviet Embassy with Wolfgang Vogel, were filmed at Berlin’s City Center. Friedrichstrasse, which is more commonly referred to as Checkpoint Charlie, is the best-known border crossing between East and West Berlin. “Everyone assumes the only way into East Berlin was through Checkpoint Charlie, but that wasn’t the case,” Stockhausen points out. “You could actually take the S-Bahn past the border and get off at the Friedrichstrasse Station, but when you got off you’d still have to go through a checkpoint to enter the East.”
Finding a place to shoot the scene in contemporary Berlin had initially presented a challenge for the filmmakers, as the Friedrichstrasse Station standing today is more modern than the one that existed during the Cold War. But Stockhausen came up with a solution and re-created the station using a hulking, rusty overpass of S-Bahn tracks near another S-Bahn station that ran along a crumbling brick wall.
To film crucial scenes in the story which took place at the Berlin Wall, the production moved to the city of Wroclaw in Poland, approximately four hours southeast of Berlin. Wroclaw (pronounced Vrohkluff) was in a state of disrepair, the result of economic hardship and years of neglect, but similar in look to that of a city ravaged by war. The city had actually been part of Germany before the borders were redrawn and was called Breslau at the time, so all the architecture was German in style. According to Platt, “Many of the buildings had not been touched since the war….there were literally bullet holes in some of the buildings.”
The Berlin Wall was in the midst of construction when Donovan’s story took place, and Spielberg wanted the audience to see it being built on-screen as well. The first version that went up was a makeshift wall made from concrete blocks and barbed wire, which was quickly replaced with the version most recognize today with reinforced cement slabs and an enormous pipe on top, making it much more sturdy and more difficult to scale.
Stockhausen and his department built approximately 300 yards of the Wall at different phases of its construction with the same materials and same dimensions as the original. It is when the American student Frederic Pryor comes into the story that the audience first sees the Berlin Wall. Pryor, while visiting a professor in East Berlin (whose daughter also happens to be his girlfriend), has an unfortunate encounter with the East German border guards, who arrest him as he tries to return to the West. Donovan first hears about Pryor when he is in East Berlin, and refuses to leave the country unless Pryor is factored into the exchange of Powers for Abel.
The end result on-screen conveys not only the terror of the Berlin Wall, but the confusion as well. Says Spielberg, “The Berlin Wall was really symbolic, but it didn’t look like San Quentin or Alcatraz or some other huge federal penitentiary. The walls were actually fairly easy to scale, you just didn’t dare do it. When we shot those scenes I looked at the Wall and thought to myself, ‘Did this really happen? Was Berlin really divided like this?’ It brought back a time in my life when walls started to go up all over the world, most of them invisible walls, but walls nonetheless.”
“It was terrifying, and it felt so permanent, too,” adds Hanks. “What production designer Adam Stockhausen was able to do with the Wall, finding that perfect crossroads in the city of Breslau in Poland that matched up so well to the architecture of the time, was truly amazing.”
Production in Berlin coincided with the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Even though the city of Berlin was located entirely within the Soviet portion of Germany, East Berlin was part of the Soviet Union; West Berlin was not. Residents of the city were able to go back and forth until the GDR built the Berlin Wall to separate the two cities, and entrance was only accessible at one of several check points located along the Wall.
On November 9, 2014, thousands of people gathered in Potsdamer Platz to commemorate the date when the East German government rescinded travel restrictions between East and West Germany. For the cast and crew filming the following day on the set of the Friedrichstrasse Station created by Stockhausen’s team, it was a vivid reminder of the conditions of violence, surveillance and deprivation under which the East Germans lived.
Portions of Friedrichstrasse Checkpoint were re-created in Wroclaw by Stockhausen and his team as well, including its iconic sign which reads: You Are Now Leaving the American Sector in three languages. The set was used to film the climatic sequence where Frederic Pryor is being escorted to the Checkpoint by Vogel, among others. “Everything about the Checkpoint Charlie set was remarkable,” says Platt. “You felt as though you were living in that moment in time, in history.”
“These people do work that I can't even begin to fathom,” adds Hanks. “It all just looks like homework to me, and they always seem to be just barely operating in time to get it all done. But when you see the end result and it is so evocative that even someone like myself who knows that it is a set still lingers on it as long as possible, that is a special talent.”
Mark Rylance agrees, saying, “The sets were all incredibly beautiful with an amazing amount of detail. As an actor, we are working among craftspeople, and just being surrounded by these people with such skill and love for what they do is very inspiring. It is the combination of all these crafts which make a great film, and Steven leads so creatively.”
Fashioning the Colors and Textures of the Period
On “Bridge of Spies,” costume designer Kasia Walicka Maimone, whose film credits include “Foxcatcher” and “Moonrise Kingdom,” was responsible for effectively conveying the time period of the story through the visual design of the clothing and accessories, but her biggest challenge on any film is to be a good listener. She explains, “With each project we have to come up with new ways to understand what the story is telling us, to really grasp the color of the period and represent it in a subtle way that helps to portray the story and not overpower it.”
Walicka Maimone’s research showed that, for the most part, people dressed up in the late ‘50s and ‘60s. “Men and women were more formally-attired, meaning suits and hats for men and dresses, suits and skirts for women,” she says. “But the men’s suits were not at all like those worn today. They were constructed in another manner, an older tradition, with a different body shape, a different sleeve, a different fit to the trousers and a thicker weave in the fabric.”
“Bridge of Spies” was her first film with Steven Spielberg, and she was thrilled to find they spoke the same language and shared a similar visual understanding of the story. Working closely with production designer Adam Stockhausen, she immersed herself in the worlds in which the characters existed, hoping to find a glimpse into the truth about them. Fortunately, she had a great deal of freedom when creating the looks which would define each character, because they weren’t playing iconic people anyone would actually recognize.
For the character of Mary Donovan, played by Amy Ryan, Walicka Maimone drew inspiration from Jackie Kennedy and accentuated Ryan’s look with a string of pearls and glasses similar to ones worn by James Donovan’s wife. “We had a lot of good information about the real Mary Donovan, most of which came from Amy, including some amazing photographs from the family’s personal collection,” Walicka Maimone says. “Looking at those photos helped us understand the essence of who this woman was. We created a lot of pieces for her, like the green coat she wears in the courtroom, which seemed to represent the era and, subliminally, provide the audience with a better feeling of that time.”
Ryan says, “She created these beautiful looks for the time period, and even though my costumes were more casual in style, each was more beautiful than the next. But the undergarments were far more constricting than what I’m used to wearing, which, believe it or not, helped me get into character since I had to move differently.”
The wardrobe reflected the culture and the period of the story, helping to articulate the director’s vision. “The costumes were off the scale, which is really saying something,” says Tom Hanks. “Anyone can go to a costume house and rent a bunch of stuff, but they still end up looking like rental costumes. I don't know how she did it, but Kasia was always coming up with fresh ideas, everything down to the waitress uniforms in Berlin’s Hilton Hotel…but that's what artists do.”
When shooting exteriors, the period costumes worn by extras helped reinforce the sense that these scenes, despite a vibrant immediacy in the present, were happening in the somewhat distant, yet recognizable, past. Some scenes featured over 300 extras, everything from spectators and reporters in court to subway passengers and pedestrians on the streets, and on cold days, required dressing them not only in clothing, but with appropriate accessories like hats, scarves, gloves and overcoats as well.
“Our job was to deliver a sense of reality in those scenes,” Walicka Maimone says. “We discussed every single extra that needed to be dressed because in order to represent a crowd effectively, you need to have a good mix of people. When having to present a crowd which represents the humanity and the streets of New York, the collaboration starts with the extras casting director, because it’s much easier to dress people when they have great faces.”
Equally key was ensuring all the wardrobe colors were authentic for the specific time period. Scenes set in New York featured clothing that was much more color-driven, representing the successful, commercial world of America in the ‘50s, with women wearing predominantly green, maroon and yellow, and men, brown, gray and navy. In Berlin, colors were scarce and muted when used, as most everything was black and/or dull gray to reflect the city’s dismal atmosphere at the time.
“We needed to effectively represent the period and the colors of the period, so Adam and I mapped out the balance of colors to figure out how everything was going to match,” Walicka Maimone says. “We absorb as much of the vocabulary from that time period as we can, choose whatever is needed for the particular frame of the film, and then construct those realities so they are strong enough to resonate the period, while not overwhelming the story.”
Evoking the Mood and Emotions of the Story
Thomas Newman, a member of the legendary Newman film-scoring family (which includes father Alfred, brother David, uncles Lionel and Emil, and cousin Randy), was brought on board to create music that would complement James Donovan’s powerful story without overpowering it. In the words of Tom Hanks, “Great scores do two things: They play underneath and you don't even notice them, or they play and you can't imagine the scenes without them.”
The composer, whose credits include “Cinderella Man,” “Jarhead” and “Little Children,” says, “This is an American story—the difficulty was figuring out the best way to represent America in a way that didn’t sugarcoat anything, while representing the ideals of Donovan at the same time. What it ended up boiling down to, for me, was simple family values, a sense of what it means to be an American in the most idealized sense of the word.”
DreamWorks had worked with Newman on numerous films over the years, including such acclaimed titles as “The Help,” “The Road to Perdition” and “American Beauty,” but “Bridge of Spies” was the composer’s first time writing music for a film actually directed by Steven Spielberg. “Steven was a true collaborator,” says Newman. “You can sense someone who very much understands the notion of artistic collaboration and wants to bring things out of the people that work for him, and that is definitely Steven.”
Music has always played a crucial role in Spielberg’s films, but from day one he envisioned “Bridge of Spies” differently. There are approximately 38 minutes of music in “Saving Private Ryan” and about 38 to 40 minutes of music in “Bridge of Spies,” and there is no music in this film for the first 20 minutes. Spielberg explains, “Many of my films are dependent on score, sometimes even dependent on wall-to-wall scoring, but I didn’t feel ‘Bridge of Spies’ was that way, the same way I didn’t feel that ‘Private Ryan’ needed wall-to-wall music.”
“It's pretty compelling,” says Newman. “The sounds of New York City really set up a sense of anticipation about what was going to happen to Abel. Francis Gary Powers’ plane crash is also brilliantly done without music, and it's just thrilling that it's all sound.”
When Newman’s score does kick in, the music is understated and brilliant in its simplicity. As Donovan becomes more involved with the CIA, the score escalates from simple piano to full orchestration, a subtle difference, but one which Spielberg believed would add some emotional weight to the friendship between Abel and Donovan. The score was performed by an orchestra made up of 85 musicians and was occasionally supplemented by vocals from a male choir, but Newman was cautious that it did not imply any kind of political bias. He explains, “In terms of that color, I didn’t want the music to say, ‘Okay, here is Russia and here is America, and Russia is going to be represented by deep male voices,’ but I did want to kind of push that as a means of compelling the story.”
Spielberg was clear with Newman that he was not expecting him to deliver a John Williams score. “Steven has a very fundamental, almost primal, relationship with John Williams, and a very successful one at that, but he encouraged me to write music that reflected my aesthetic as opposed to trying to match John's,” says Newman. “I've known John forever through my family, but I always knew I didn't want to end up being a third-rate John Williams because his style has been such a defining part of what movie music is.”
Adds Spielberg, “It was devastating to me because John was having this medical thing, and he’s okay now, thank God, but we have always worked together, and after 42 years of collaboration, not to work with him was almost incomprehensible. At one point my response was not to have any music at all…it would just come out of record players and radios and those kinds of things. But then I knew that there were parts of this film that really would benefit from score and I didn’t think twice when I knew it wasn’t going to be John…the first person I thought of was Tom Newman.”
“When Steven and I would get together to discuss the music, he was always looking at the movie as someone who was trying to enjoy it and trying to relate to it as opposed to someone who had intentions,” says Newman. “So he would watch and listen and he would react, which was ultimately very rewarding because I felt like I found my own voice and that the voice was accepted by Steven.”
While John Williams was unavailable to score the film due to a minor health issue, which has now been corrected, he will write the score for Spielberg’s next film, “The BFG.”
Seamlessly Weaving the Elements Together
Molding a film about the courageous exploits of a family man turned Cold War spy negotiator presented editor Michael Kahn with a unique challenge. “It was a big dialogue piece,” explains Kahn. “He shot it in more of a conventional way, where dialogue was key. He wanted the audience to really be involved in what was being said and to really think about things, so we didn't cut it like an action film. In fact, Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance’s performances were so scintillating at some points that it was difficult to cut away at all.”
It was important for Steven Spielberg that James Donovan remained the story’s focus, and the fact that there was no music at the beginning of the film helped to reinforce the story and accentuate the dialogue. Kahn explains, “By not having music there, it allowed us to really get a sense for what Donovan’s life is like, and it worked out beautifully because we got to know him quickly because we were able to hear all the dialogue so clearly.”
Kahn is one of Spielberg’s longtime collaborators, a relationship that dates back to 1977 and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” According to Hanks, “Matt Charman realized that there was something fantastic there and wrote it up, and then the Coens end up sprinkling their substantial amount of fairy dust on it. Some of those are in the text, but the timing and the composition is all Steven and Michael. Thank God they have the shorthand that they do, because no one can write that stuff.”
On “Bridge of Spies,” Spielberg would run the dailies with Kahn and his team and give them his scene selects. And because the director prefers to edit during principal photography, coming in before call time, during lunch and after wrap, Kahn was able to assemble a cut of the film relatively quickly. “It's great to be able to show him things while he's on the set and to get his feedback while we're cutting,” says Kahn.
Another challenge for Kahn was determining the best way to effectively combine multiple stories involving four different characters—James Donovan, Francis Gary Powers, Rudolf Abel and Frederic Pryor—and showing how they were all connected, even though they were all quite different. “That’s part of the magic of Michael Kahn and Steven’s collaboration…that they are able to put those things together so that they feel seamless when you see it finished,” says producer Kristie Macosko Krieger.
~ BEHIND THE SCENES WITH THE DIRECTOR ~
Steven Spielberg’s intuition of how to combine the camera and visual storytelling with text and subtext and character is prodigious. “Every director is a visual storyteller, but what sets Steven apart is that he is literally taking in everything that’s going on around him,” says producer Kristie Macosko Krieger. “He allows every other department to be at their best at all times because he trusts them, so there is a sense of calmness on the set because every person on the crew has the confidence to do what they do so well.”
For Janusz Kaminski, who hoped to visually convey the reality of the Cold War on-screen, the cinematographer needed to come up with creative ways to revive the period while not going overboard, as he knew that too much imagery would look fake. Spielberg explains, “We didn’t have the budget to put blue screen and show miles and miles of digital period buildings out the window, so we had the windows frosted over. Then Janusz brought all the light, one source, a single source, from the glass, and it gave that first meeting between Donovan and Abel a real coldness. As a warmth began to develop, or at least the opportunity for a relationship began to occur to us (and to them), you could interpret that cool light as being sort of a wall between them that would slowly come down over the course of their story.”
“Watching Janusz work is phenomenal,” says Macosko Krieger. “He sees things that none of us can see, and he sees it in the light and he sees it where the camera is and it just seems so instinctual to him.”
As producers, Macosko Krieger and Marc Platt’s contributions were quite substantial. Tom Hanks explains, “Kristie knows everything in and out, back and forth. She knows the script better than I do and she knows the subtext of every discussion she's ever had with Steven. Kristie realizes we've got 82 billion working parts, and she can break down every one of those. No matter what is going on with Kristie at that exact moment, you can come up to her and have a fully-realized conversation about the topic at hand. She can tell you exactly what the status is of anything.”
“Marc knows the place that the movie holds in the Zeitgeist of films,” Hanks says. “He takes into account the history, the period and the casting choices and views it as a single-celled creature. A lot of times producers are beholden to the director because without the director their film doesn't get made. But I think Steven is beholden to Kristie and Marc because, without them, he doesn't have the freedom to think about the work purely in cinematic terms.”
“Steven is a very fatherly figure,” says Mark Rylance. “I didn't realize how important and how much time he puts into his family until we worked together. I don’t know how he finds the time with all the things he's doing, but he's really quite a family man and has maintained that, which is quite extraordinary for such a busy person.”
According to Spielberg, some of the best moments in his films are accidents, either accidents of interpretation or something audiences read into on their own. “Other times they are determined choices for which I cross my fingers that people will discover as they watch the movie,” he says. “And that’s the most satisfying thing: when you intend something and people understand what your intention was, and they’re getting it and they’re liking what they’re getting. That’s the best reward.”
One incident in particular which stood out for the cast involved the inadvertent smashing on the ground of used flashbulbs from the press photographers. It was after the reading of Abel’s verdict in court when the media were surging around Donovan, his wife Mary and Thomas Watters. Rylance explains, “Steven came up with the idea of using these discarded bulbs littering the floor as a way to heighten the drama when Mary, who’s being overwhelmed by the media, steps back and her high heel crunches one of the bulbs.”
Amy Ryan adds, “Steven had this idea in an instant. I saw him get down onto the floor at the level of the camera so he could see exactly what the shot, the smashing of the bulbs, would look like. We learn a great deal about Mary because of the way Steven filmed this scene, myself included.”
“It ends up making a comment on the waste,” says Hanks. “It wasn’t even in the script, it wasn’t even a cool shot, but it actually added to the tapestry of the moment, and Steven comes up with stuff like that because that's the way he thinks.”
“Steven thinks in cinematic terms,” says Hanks. “His ability to tell important story moments just by what he does with the camera is the reason he's Steven Spielberg. He's done it again and again and again, and all you can do is stand back and watch.”
In addition to being an amazingly-proficient filmmaker, Spielberg is genuinely concerned about his actors and has a profound respect for their craft, constantly looking for ways to create a story on-screen in the easiest and most natural way possible. Hanks says, “Steven and I have a pretty good shorthand. I would come in with an enthusiastic idea for how to go about the scene and Steven would say, ‘That’s great, because what I want to do is play it all the way from back here, and if you’re moving around like that, that’s where the eye is going to go.’”
Rylance was amazed by the amount of preparation involved with each setup on “Bridge of Spies,” comparing it with a Renaissance workshop. “Steven comes in and you see him take in everything all around him,” he says. “He is in total command of the big picture and everything going through the frame, the sets, the background actors, all the movements. Watching him, I imagined Leonardo da Vinci at work. He was like a painter, but working with moving pictures.”
Adds Hanks, “When you show up on Steven’s set, it has already been built, not only physically, but deep inside Steven’s head. Your job is to do exactly what he wants you to do, but he also expects you to add in all the little things he expects you to come up with. He has the film cut in his head long before we even get to the set. He reads the screenplay thousands and thousands of times, over and over and over again, so he knows what he's going to be doing, cinematically, five weeks from now.”
“Bridge of Spies” was a tremendous learning experience for Ryan. “Steven is so enthusiastic about what he’s doing that it’s infectious,” she says. “There were times when I would be observing him at work and all of a sudden his eyes would get big as saucers, almost as if he was this 12-year-old boy still making films in his backyard.”
Spielberg also puts a tremendous amount of focus on the narrative. While some directors are focused on the feelings of the actors or the beauty of the images, he's more concerned about where the audience's imagination is. Macosko Krieger says, “What’s great about Steven is that he truly loves being on set. In the mornings when we get to work I’ll say, ‘Is there anything else you’d rather be doing in the world right now?’ and he says, ‘No,’ and it’s true. He knows he is incredibly lucky to do what he does.”
~ AN ORDINARY MAN PLACED IN EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES ~
Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, and with “Bridge of Spies,” the incredible story of an ordinary man placed in extraordinary circumstances, it is all the more compelling because the character at the heart of the story is a real person.
Because of his association with Rudolf Abel, James Donovan was subjected to a great deal of scrutiny from the media and the general public, and a source of fascination in the story for Steven Spielberg is the notion that people often jump to conclusions and make snap judgments, which ended up helping him determine the best way to approach the story. He explains, “We have to find the villain and find the hero in real-life stories, and so by quickly targeting and earmarking a villain, we immediately stop being mindful, or even empathetic, about the person that we deem a villain. We give all our empathy to the hero, and we give no credit and no currency to the villain. By doing that, we become very one-sided and all our tolerance goes out the window.”
Spielberg continues, “One of the things I loved about this story was that everyone you think should be wearing a black hat isn’t necessarily wearing that hat, nor did they intend to. It doesn’t make it easy to root for someone who is a spy against the national security of our nation…how could we possibly come out on the other end of this experience caring about this person in the least? But in this case we do, and that was something that made me want to get involved with the project.”
In the story, people judge Rudolf Abel for who they think he is and what they think he is doing, but James Donovan sees something different in him. And Francis Gary Powers is being judged as someone who let himself fall into enemy hands, yet Donovan sees him as a pilot who did his best, who didn’t give any secrets away but who held the line.
“There is this wonderful moment at the end of the film when people on the subway who had misjudged Donovan earlier are looking at him anew because they realize what he's accomplished and that they were wrong to judge this guy and this situation,” says producer Kristie Macosko Krieger. “It's a fantastic moment for his character.”
Navigating the unfamiliar waters of high-stakes international intrigue, James Donovan rose to the occasion with a modesty befitting the heroic acts that he performs, becoming an unsung civilian hero, and, in the process, the inspiration for an incredibly powerful story and film.
~ ABOUT THE CAST ~
TOM HANKS (James Donovan) is an award-winning actor, producer and director. One of only two actors in history to win back-to-back Best Actor Academy Awards®, he won his first Oscar® in 1994 for his moving portrayal of AIDS-stricken lawyer Andrew Beckett in Jonathan Demme’s “Philadelphia.” The following year, he took home his second Oscar for his unforgettable performance in the title role of Robert Zemeckis’ “Forrest Gump.” He also won Golden Globe® Awards for both films, as well as a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award® for the latter.
Hanks has also been honored with Academy Award® nominations for his performances in Penny Marshall’s “Big,” Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” and Robert Zemeckis’ “Cast Away,” also winning Golden Globes® for “Big” and “Cast Away.”
Hanks was most recently seen starring in the Academy Award® and Golden Globe®-nominated film “Captain Phillips,” for which he received SAG®, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations as well as in AFI’s Movie of the Year “Saving Mr. Banks,” with Emma Thompson.
His other feature credits include the Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski film “Cloud Atlas”; Stephen Daldry’s “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”; the animated adventure “The Polar Express,” which he also executive produced and which reunited him with director Robert Zemeckis; the Coen brothers’ “The Ladykillers”; Steven Spielberg’s “The Terminal” and “Catch Me If You Can”; Sam Mendes’ “Road to Perdition”; Frank Darabont’s “The Green Mile”; Nora Ephron’s “You’ve Got Mail” and “Sleepless in Seattle”; Penny Marshall’s “A League of Their Own”; Ron Howard’s “Apollo 13,” “The Da Vinci Code,” “Angels & Demons” and “Splash”; and the computer-animated blockbusters “Toy Story,” “Toy Story 2” and “Toy Story 3.”
Upcoming films include Tom Tykwer’s “A Hologram for the King.” Hanks most recently completed production on Ron Howard’s “Inferno.” Hanks is currently in production on Clint Eastwood’s “Sully.”
Hanks’ work on the big screen has translated to success on the small screen. Following “Apollo 13,” he executive produced and hosted the acclaimed HBO miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon,” also directing one segment, and writing several others. His work on the miniseries brought him Emmy®, Golden Globe® and Producers Guild Awards, as well as an Emmy nomination for Best Director.
His collaboration with Steven Spielberg on “Saving Private Ryan” led to them executive producing the HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers,” based on the book by Stephen Ambrose. Hanks also directed a segment and wrote another segment of the fact-based miniseries, which won Emmy® and Golden Globe® Awards for Best Miniseries. In addition, Hanks earned an Emmy Award for Best Director and an Emmy nomination for Best Writing, and received another Producers Guild Award for his work on the project.
In 2008, Hanks executive produced the critically-acclaimed HBO miniseries “John Adams,” starring Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney and Tom Wilkinson. It won 13 Emmy® Awards, including the Emmy for Outstanding Miniseries, as well as a Golden Globe® for Best Miniseries and a PGA Award. More recently, Hanks and Spielberg reteamed for the award-winning HBO miniseries “The Pacific,” for which Hanks once again served as executive producer. The 10-part program won eight Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Miniseries, and brought Hanks his fourth PGA Award.
In 2012, Hanks executive produced the HBO political drama starring Julianne Moore and Ed Harris, that follows Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate in his 2008 presidential campaign. “Game Change” was awarded Emmy® and Golden Globes® for Best Miniseries/Television Film as well as earning several other awards and nominations. In 2013, Hanks served as host, narrator and historical commentator for the two-hour National Geographic television movie based on the best-selling book “Killing Lincoln.” Hanks and Playtone most recently produced the Emmy-nominated CNN documentary series “The Sixties” and the HBO miniseries “Olive Kitteridge,” based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Elizabeth Strout.
In 1996, Hanks made his successful feature film writing and directing debut with “That Thing You Do,” in which he also starred. He more recently wrote, produced, directed and starred in “Larry Crowne,” with Julia Roberts. Under his and Gary Goetzman’s Playtone banner, they produced 2002’s smash hit romantic comedy “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” with Hanks’ wife, Rita Wilson. Other producing credits include “Where the Wild Things Are,” “The Polar Express,” “The Ant Bully,” “Charlie Wilson’s War,” “Mamma Mia!” “The Great Buck Howard,” “Starter for 10” and the HBO series “Big Love.”
In 2013, Hanks made his Broadway debut in Nora Ephron’s “Lucky Guy.” His performance earned him Drama Desk, Drama League, Outer Critics Circle, and Tony® nominations.
In 2002, Hanks received the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He was later honored by the Film Society of Lincoln Center with the Chaplin Award in 2009. In 2014, Hanks received a Kennedy Center Honor.
During his remarkable acting career, MARK RYLANCE (Rudolf Abel) has impressed audiences and critics alike, and his performances have earned him three Tony Awards®, two Olivier Awards and one BAFTA. “Bridge of Spies” marks his first collaboration with director Steven Spielberg, which is swiftly followed by his second Spielberg-directed feature, “The BFG,” in which he plays the starring role. “The BFG” will be released in the summer of 2016.
Rylance recently grabbed the attention of television audiences worldwide when the critically- acclaimed “Wolf Hall,” directed by Peter Kosminsky, was broadcast in multiple countries including the U.S. and the U.K. His portrayal of Thomas Cromwell earned him an Emmy® nomination for Best Actor, Limited Series or Movie.
Rylance was born in England in 1960 and immigrated with his family to America in 1962. He lived in Connecticut until 1969 before moving to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he lived until he returned to London in 1978. He trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (1978-1980) under Hugh Cruttwell. Rylance was given his first job by the Glasgow Citizens Theatre in 1980, as well as a year in repertoire, a trip to the carnival in Venice with Goldoni and an Equity card.
In addition to many leading acting roles, Rylance was the Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London for 10 years (1996-2006) and played a major part in creating its ongoing success. Earlier this year, Rylance returned to the Globe Theatre and the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse as King Philippe V in “Farinelli and the King,” written by Claire van Kampen, a production that moved to the Duke of York’s Theatre in London’s West End. In 2007, Rylance wrote his first play, “I Am Shakespeare,” which premiered at the Chichester Festival Theatre under the direction of Matthew Warchus and was published in 2012 by Nick Hern Books. Additional companies he has worked for include: the RSC; RNT; The Bush; The Tricycle; Shared Experience; TFANA (New York); and for his own companies, The London Theatre of Imagination (LTI) and Phoebus Cart. Throughout his career, he has acted in more than 50 productions by Shakespeare and his contemporaries.
Additional theater roles include: Ron in “Nice Fish,” which Rylance co-wrote with Louis Jenkins and co-directed with Claire van Kampen; Countess Olivia in “Twelfth Night”; “Richard III”; and Johnny “Rooster” Byron in “Jerusalem.” Other West End/Broadway performances are: Valere in “La Bête” and Robert in “Boeing-Boeing.” He won Best Actor Tony Awards® for “Twelfth Night,” “Jerusalem” and “Boeing-Boeing”; Best Actor Olivier Awards for “Jerusalem” and “Much Ado About Nothing”; and the Best Actor BAFTA Award for the TV movie “The Government Inspector.”
Other film and television credits include: “The Gunman,” directed by Pierre Morel; “Days and Nights” (Palm Springs International Film Festival, 2014), directed by Christian Camargo and produced by Juliet Rylance; “Anonymous”; “The Other Boleyn Girl”; “The Grass Arena”; “Love Lies Bleeding”; “Intimacy”; “Angels and Insects”; “Nocturne”; and “Institute Benjamenta,” by the Brothers Quay. He is also the voice of Flop in the BBC’s “Bing Bunny” animated TV series.
Rylance is an ambassador of Survival, the global movement for trial peoples’ rights; a patron of Peace Direct, an organization dedicated to the non-violent resolution of conflict; an honorary bencher of the Middle Temple Hall in London; and a trustee of the Shakespearean Authorship Trust.
SCOTT SHEPHERD (Hoffman) has performed with the Wooster Group for over 15 years in: “Cry, Trojans!” “Vieux Carré,” “Hamlet,” “Poor Theater,” “To You, the Birdie!” “North Atlantic,” and others. He has also worked extensively with Elevator Repair Service, most recently as the narrator of “Gatz,” a marathon staging of the unabridged text of “The Great Gatsby” that played at the Public Theater, in London's West End, and in 21 other cities around the world.
He has received two Obie Awards, for “Gatz” and “Poor Theater.” Other theater credits include: “Blood Knot,” directed by Athol Fugard and “Straight White Men,” directed by Young Jean Lee.
Film credits include: “Meanwhile,” directed by Hal Hartley; “Side Effects,” directed by Steven Soderbergh; and “And So It Goes,” directed by Rob Reiner. He was most recently in the off-Broadway production of “The Village Bike,” directed by Sam Gold and co-starring Greta Gerwig for MCC.
AMY RYAN (Mary Donovan) had a co-starring role in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Oscar®-winning film, “Birdman.” Other recent credits include: writer/director Drake Doremus’ “Breathe In,” in which she starred with Guy Pearce and Felicity Jones; “Clear History,” directed by Greg Mottola for HBO, in which she co-starred with Larry David and Jon Hamm; and “Devil’s Knot,” directed by Atom Egoyan, co-starring Colin Firth.
Additional credits include “Monster Trucks,” a live-action/CGI hybrid, directed by Chris Wedge, in which she co-stars with Barry Pepper and Rob Lowe; “Goosebumps,” co-starring Jack Black, directed by Rob Letterman and produced by Neal H. Moritz; “Louder Than Bombs” for director Joachim Trier, in which she co-stars with Jesse Eisenberg, Gabriel Byrne and Isabelle Huppert; and “Don Verdean” for director Jared Hess, in which she stars with Sam Rockwell, Will Forte and Danny McBride, and which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.
For her acclaimed performance in “Gone Baby Gone,” she was recognized with Academy Award®, Golden Globe® and SAG Award® nominations for Best Supporting Actress. Additionally, she won numerous Best Supporting Actress awards, including those from the National Board of Review, the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association, the New York Film Critics’ Circle and the L.A. Film Critics. Her other film credits include “Win Win,” “Green Zone,” “Jack Goes Boating,” “Changeling,” “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead,” “Capote,” “Dan in Real Life,” “War of the Worlds,” “Keane,” “You Can Count on Me” and “The Missing Person.”
Ryan made her Broadway debut in Wendy Wasserstein’s “The Sisters’ Rosensweig.” For her work in the 2000 production of “Uncle Vanya,” she was nominated for a Tony Award® for Best Featured Actress in a Play. In 2005, she appeared as Stella in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” earning her second Tony nomination. She also starred in Neil LaBute’s “The Distance From Here” in London’s West End. In 2013, she starred in Lisa D’Amour’s critically-acclaimed play “Detroit,” directed by Anne Kauffman at Playwrights Horizons.
Her television work includes memorable portrayals as Holly Flax on “The Office,” Adele on “In Treatment” and Officer Beatrice ‘Beadie’ Russell on “The Wire.”
SEBASTIAN KOCH (Wolfgang Vogel) starred in the 2007 Academy Award®-winning Best Foreign Film “The Lives of Others,” directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. In 2013, he co-starred opposite Bruce Willis in “A Good Day to Die Hard.”
Koch was born in Karlsruhe, Germany, and grew up in Stuttgart. From 1982-1985, he studied at the Otto Falckenberg School in Munich and performed during this period with the Theater der Jugend (Youth Theater). He began his professional stage career in the municipal theaters of Ulm and Darmstadt and began working in Berlin in the 1990s, appearing in Schiller’s “The Robbers” and Goethe’s “Iphigenie auf Tauris” and Nick Whitby’s “Dirty Dishes.”
Koch has starred in many German television productions, including “Todesspiel,” “Dance With the Devil: The Kidnapping of Richard Oetker,” “The Manns: A Novel of the Century” and “Stauffenberg.”
Film credits include “Gloomy Sunday,” “The Tunnel,” “Napoleon,” “Black Book,” “The Shell Seekers,” “Sea Wolf,” “Albatross,” “October-November,” and many others.
ALAN ALDA (Thomas Watters) has earned international recognition as an actor, writer and director. In addition to “The Aviator,” for which he was nominated for an Academy Award®, Alda’s films include “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” “Everyone Says I Love You,” “Flirting With Disaster,” “Manhattan Murder Mystery,” “And the Band Played On,” “Same Time, Next Year” and “California Suite,” as well as “The Seduction of Joe Tynan,” which he wrote, and “The Four Seasons,” “Sweet Liberty,” “A New Life” and “Betsy’s Wedding,” all of which he wrote and directed.
In 2011-2012, his film appearances included “Tower Heist” and “Wanderlust.” Earlier this year he co-starred in “The Longest Ride,” based on the Nicholas Sparks novel.
Alda has the distinction of being nominated for an Oscar®, a Tony Award®, and an Emmy®, as well as publishing a best-selling book, all in the same year (2005). His Emmy nomination was for his role on “The West Wing.” His Tony nomination that year was for his role in the Broadway revival of David Mamet's “Glengarry Glen Ross.” In addition to receiving an Academy Award® nomination for his appearance in Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator” that year, he was also nominated for a BAFTA Award. In all, he has received seven Emmys.
Alda played Hawkeye Pierce on the classic television series “M*A*S*H,” and wrote and directed many of the episodes. His 34 Emmy® nominations include the following performances: in 2009 for “30 Rock”; in 2006 for “The West Wing,” winning his sixth Emmy; and in 1999 for “E.R.” In 2014, he was nominated for playing the nefarious Alan Fitch on “The Blacklist.”
In 1994 he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. He hosted the award-winning series “Scientific American Frontiers” on PBS for 11 years, interviewing leading scientists from around the world. He has also hosted the PBS series “The Human Spark” and the mini-series “Brains on Trial.”
Other television performances include Truman Capote's “The Glass House” and “Kill Me If You Can,” for which he received an Emmy® nomination for his portrayal of Caryl Chessman, an inmate who spent 12 years on death row.
On Broadway, he appeared in the 2014 revival of “Love Letters” and as the physicist Richard Feynman in the play “QED.” He starred in the first American production of the international hit play “Art.” In addition to his nomination for “Glengarry,” he was also nominated for the Tony Award® for his performances in Neil Simon's “Jake’s Women” and the musical “The Apple Tree.” Other appearances on Broadway include “The Owl and the Pussycat,” “Purlie Victorious” and “Fair Game for Lovers,” for which he received a Theatre World Award.
He was presented with the National Science Board’s Public Service Award in 2006 for his efforts in helping to broaden the public’s understanding of science. Since 2008, he has worked with physicist Brian Greene in presenting the annual World Science Festival in New York City, to date attended by more than 1 million people. He helped found the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University.
His first memoir, “Never Have Your Dog Stuffed and Other Things I’ve Learned,” became a New York Times best seller, as did his second: “Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself.”
AUSTIN STOWELL (Francis Gary Powers) is capturing the attention of Hollywood as one of the industry’s most promising rising stars. Following a supporting turn in 2014's Academy Award®-winning film “Whiplash,” he can currently be seen co-starring in TNT’s television drama, “Public Morals,” directed by Edward Burns and executive produced by Steven Spielberg.
His upcoming films include the action-thriller “Stratton,” opposite Dominic Cooper, and “Indubious Battle,” opposite Robert Duvall and Vincent D'Onofrio for director James Franco. He was previously seen in Steven Soderbergh's “Behind the Candelabra,” alongside Michael Douglas and Matt Damon.
Growing up in Connecticut, Stowell was a competitive athlete. After a sports injury sidelined him, he agreed to perform in a local theater production and it was there that he discovered a passion for acting. He received a full scholarship to the University of Connecticut Department of Dramatic Arts. Shortly after graduating, Stowell moved to Los Angeles, where he currently resides, to pursue acting professionally.
MIKHAIL GOREVOY (Ivan Schischkin) is best known to international audiences for his role as Vladimir Popov in the James Bond film “Die Another Day.”
He studied theater and acting at the Moscow Art Academy of Theatre and began his professional career at Mikhail Yefremov’s Sovremennik-2 Studio Theatre and Moscow’s Mayakovsky Academic Theatre.
Gorevoy has appeared in scores of films and television shows in Russia, including the 2006 documentary drama “Space Race” for the BBC’s Channel 1, the 2007 Italian TV series “Two Families” and the BBC series “Nuclear Secrets.”
A respected teacher, Gorevoy taught the Stanislavsky system of acting in the United States for three years and in 1996 founded the Fabrica Theater. He currently teaches acting at the Russian State University of Cinematography (VGIK).
WILL ROGERS’ (Frederic Pryor) film credits include “A Good Marriage” (Stephen King; directed by Peter Askin); “The Bay” (directed by Barry Levinson); “Nancy, Please” (Tribeca Film Festival debut); “Happy New Year” and “Certainty.” On television, Rogers has guest starred on “Blue Bloods,” “Unforgettable,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Gossip Girl” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.”
On stage, Rogers has starred in “The Mound Builders” (Signature Theatre; directed by Jo Bonney); “Golden Age” (MTC; directed by Walter Bobbie); “As You Like It” (Shakespeare in the Park; directed by Dan Sullivan); “The Submission” (MCC Theater); “Unnatural Acts” (Classic Stage Company); “From Up Here” (MTC) and “Columbinus” (NYTW).
~ ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS ~
STEVEN SPIELBERG (Director/Producer), one of the industry’s most successful and influential filmmakers, is a principal partner of DreamWorks Studios. Formed in 2009, Spielberg leads the motion picture company in partnership with The Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group.
Spielberg is also, collectively, the top-grossing director of all time, having helmed such blockbusters as “Jaws,” “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,” the “Indiana Jones” franchise and “Jurassic Park.” Among his myriad honors, he is a three-time Academy Award® winner.
Spielberg took home his first two Oscars®, for Best Director and Best Picture, for the internationally-lauded “Schindler’s List,” which received a total of seven Oscars. The film was also named the Best Picture of 1993 by many of the major critics’ organizations, in addition to winning seven BAFTA Awards and three Golden Globe® Awards, both including Best Picture and Best Director. Spielberg also won the Directors Guild of America (DGA) Award for his work on the film.
Spielberg won his third Academy Award®, for Best Director, for the World War II drama “Saving Private Ryan,” which was the highest-grossing release (domestically) of 1998. It was also one of the year’s most honored films, earning four additional Oscars®, as well as two Golden Globe® Awards, for Best Picture - Drama and Best Director, and numerous critics’ groups awards in the same categories. Spielberg also won another DGA Award, and shared a Producers Guild of America (PGA) Award with the film’s other producers. That same year, the PGA also presented Spielberg with the prestigious Milestone Award for his historic contribution to the motion picture industry.
He has also earned Academy Award® nominations for Best Director for “Munich,” “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Lincoln.” Additionally, he earned DGA Award nominations for those films, as well as for “Jaws,” “The Color Purple,” “Empire of the Sun” and “Amistad.” With 11 to date, Spielberg has been honored by his peers with more DGA Award nominations than any other director. In 2000, he received the DGA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He is also the recipient of the Irving G. Thalberg Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Hollywood Foreign Press’ Cecil B. De Mille Award, the Kennedy Center Honor and numerous other career tributes.
In 2012, Spielberg directed Academy Award® winner Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln,” based in part on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals,” with a screenplay by Tony Kushner. The DreamWorks Pictures/20th Century Fox film, in association with Participant Media, garnered 12 Academy Award nominations and grossed $275 million worldwide. The film won two Oscars®, including Daniel Day-Lewis’ third Oscar for Best Actor playing the iconic 16th president, as well as Best Production Design.
Before “Lincoln,” Spielberg directed the 3D-animated film “The Adventures of Tintin,” winner of the Golden Globe® for Best Animated Feature Film. He also directed “War Horse,” based on the award-winning novel that was adapted into a major stage hit in London and New York, winning the Tony Award® for Broadway’s Best Play. “War Horse” was nominated for six Academy Awards® including Best Picture. In 2011, he also produced the box-office success “Super 8,” directed by J.J. Abrams, and executive produced the third
“Transformers” film, directed by Michael Bay, which has grossed over $1 billion at the worldwide box office.
Spielberg’s career began with the 1968 short film “Amblin,” which led to him becoming the youngest director ever signed to a long-term studio deal. He directed episodes of such TV shows as “Night Gallery,” “Marcus Welby, M.D.” and “Columbo,” and gained special attention for his 1971 telefilm “Duel.” Three years later, he made his feature film directorial debut with “The Sugarland Express,” from a screenplay he co-wrote. His next film was “Jaws,” which was the first film to break the $100 million mark.
In 1984, Spielberg formed his own production company, Amblin Entertainment. Under the Amblin banner, he served as producer or executive producer on such hits as “Gremlins,” “Goonies,” “Back to the Future I, II and III,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” “An American Tail,” “Twister,” “The Mask of Zorro” and the “Men in Black” films. In 1994, Spielberg partnered with Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen to form the original DreamWorks Studios. The studio enjoyed both critical and commercial successes, including three consecutive Best Picture Academy Award® winners: “American Beauty,” “Gladiator” and “A Beautiful Mind.” In its history, DreamWorks has also produced or co-produced a wide range of features, including the “Transformers” blockbusters; Clint Eastwood’s World War II dramas “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters From Iwo Jima,” the latter earning a Best Picture Oscar® nomination; “Meet the Parents” and “Meet the Fockers”; and “The Ring,” to name only a few. Under the DreamWorks banner, Spielberg also directed such films as “War of the Worlds,” “Minority Report,” “Catch Me If You Can” and “A.I. Artificial Intelligence.”
Spielberg has not limited his success to the big screen. He was an executive producer on the long-running Emmy®-winning TV drama “ER,” produced by his Amblin Entertainment company and Warner Bros. Television for NBC. On the heels of their experience on “Saving Private Ryan,” he and Tom Hanks teamed up to executive produce the 2001 HBO miniseries “Band of
Brothers,” based on Stephen Ambrose’s book about a U.S. Army unit in Europe in World War II. Among its many awards, the project won both Emmy and Golden Globe® Awards for Outstanding Miniseries. He and Hanks more recently reunited to executive produce the acclaimed 2010 HBO miniseries “The Pacific,” this time focusing on the Marines in WWII’s Pacific Theatre. “The Pacific” won eight Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Miniseries.
Among the shows Spielberg also executive produced were the Emmy®-winning Sci-Fi Channel miniseries “Taken,” the TNT miniseries “Into the West,” the Showtime series “The United States of Tara” and NBC’s “Smash.” He is currently an executive producer on: TNT’s “Falling Skies”; CBS’s “Under the Dome” and “Extant”; FX’s “The Americans,” which has earned a Peabody Award; and the newest show, TNT’s “Public Morals.”
Apart from his filmmaking work, Spielberg has also devoted his time and resources to many philanthropic causes. He established The Righteous Persons Foundation using all his profits from “Schindler’s List.” He also founded the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, which in 2006 became the USC Shoah Foundation - The Institute for Visual History and Education. The Institute has recorded more than 52,000 interviews with survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides and is dedicated to making the testimonies a compelling voice for education and action. Additionally, Spielberg is the Chairman Emeritus of the Starlight Children’s Foundation.
MATT CHARMAN (Screenwriter) is an award-winning British playwright whose productions include three world premieres at London's prestigious National Theatre. He recently co-wrote the screenplay for “Suite Française,” starring Michelle Williams, Kristin Scott Thomas and Margot Robbie.
Charman’s current projects include: a feature film adaptation of his 2013 play, “The Machine,” for Film Nation; an untitled bank heist thriller to be directed by Matt Reeves; “Opposite Number,” a 10-part political thriller for British and U.S. television; and “Patriot’s Day,” directed by Peter Berg with Mark Wahlberg attached to star. His U.K. television credits include: the BBC's “Our Zoo” and the ITV mini-series “Black Work,” starring Sheridan Smith.
ETHAN COEN (Screenwriter) directed, produced and wrote “Inside Llewyn Davis” with his brother, Joel. The film was honored with the Grand Prix at the 2013 Cannes International Film Festival. He and Joel wrote the screenplay for 2014’s “Unbroken,” directed by Angelina Jolie. Ethan has produced and co-written such critically-acclaimed films as “Miller’s Crossing”; “Barton Fink,” which won the Palme D’Or (Best Picture), Best Director and Best Actor (John Turturro) Awards at the 1991 Cannes International Film Festival; and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” which was nominated for two Academy Awards®, four BAFTA Awards, and two Golden Globe® Awards (winning one).
One of 1996’s most honored films, “Fargo,” which he produced and co-wrote, received seven Academy Award® nominations and won two, including Best Original Screenplay for Ethan and his brother, Joel. Among the other films that he has co-written and produced are “Blood Simple,” “Raising Arizona,” “The Hudsucker Proxy,” “The Big Lebowski,” “The Man Who Wasn’t There” and “Intolerable Cruelty.” He co-directed and co-wrote the 2004 comedy “The Ladykillers” with Joel.
Ethan and Joel Coen’s 2007 adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s “No Country for Old Men” brought them Directors Guild of America and BAFTA nominations and an Academy Award® and Golden Globe® Award for Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay from the New York Film Critics’ Circle; and Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay from the Oscars® and the National Board of Review. The film’s cast was voted Best Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture by the Screen Actors Guild®, and Javier Bardem won the Screen Actors Guild Award and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, among other accolades.
Ethan and Joel Coen’s film “Burn After Reading,” was nominated for the BAFTA Award and the WGA Award for Best Original Screenplay, and their film “A Serious Man” received Academy Award® nominations for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, and was also nominated for the BAFTA Award and the WGA Award for Best Original Screenplay.
Ethan and Joel Coen recently wrapped production on “Hail Caesar!” starring George Clooney, Channing Tatum and Scarlett Johansson. “True Grit,” which was released in 2010, received 10 Academy Award® nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor (Jeff Bridges) and Best Supporting Actress (Hailee Steinfeld).
“Almost an Evening,” comprising three short plays by Ethan, was staged in 2008 off-Broadway by Neil Pepe at the Atlantic Theater Company’s Stage 2 and then at the Bleecker Street Theatre. In 2009, the same director and company staged his three new short plays under the title “Offices.”
In 2011, Ethan’s one-act play “Talking Cure,” along with one-act plays by Elaine May and Woody Allen under the collective title “Relatively Speaking,” was staged on Broadway by John Turturro.
JOEL COEN’s (Screenwriter) most recent film “Inside Llewyn Davis,” which he directed produced and wrote with his brother, Ethan, was awarded the Grand Prix at the 2013 Cannes International Film Festival. He and Ethan wrote the screenplay for 2014’s “Unbroken,” directed by Angelina Jolie. Joel was honored at the Cannes International Film Festival in 2001 as Best Director for “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” and in 1991 as Best Director for “Barton Fink.” He was honored as Best Director by the National Board of Review and the BAFTA Awards for 1996’s “Fargo” and also won the Academy Award® for Best Original Screenplay for “Fargo,” which he co-wrote with his brother, Ethan. The screenplay for “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” also co-written with Ethan, was nominated for a BAFTA Award and the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Other films that he has directed and co-written are “Intolerable Cruelty,” “The Big Lebowski,” “The Hudsucker Proxy,” “Miller’s Crossing,” “Raising Arizona” and “Blood Simple.” He co-directed and co-wrote the 2004 comedy “The Ladykillers” with Ethan.
Joel and Ethan Coen’s 2007 adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s “No Country for Old Men” brought them the Directors Guild of America and BAFTA Award for Best Director; the Golden Globe® Award for Best Screenplay; Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay from the New York Film Critics’ Circle; and Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay from the Oscars® and the National Board of Review. The film’s cast was voted the Screen Actors Guild Award® for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, and Javier Bardem won the Screen Actors Guild Award and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, among other accolades.
Joel and Ethan Coen’s film “Burn After Reading” was nominated for the BAFTA Award and the WGA Award for Best Original Screenplay, and their film “A Serious Man” received Academy Award® nominations for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, and was also nominated for the BAFTA Award and the WGA Award for Best Original Screenplay.
Joel and Ethan Coen recently wrapped production on “Hail Caesar!” starring George Clooney, Channing Tatum and Scarlett Johansson. “True Grit,” which was released in 2010, received 10 Academy Award® nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor (Jeff Bridges) and Best Supporting Actress (Hailee Steinfeld).
MARC PLATT (Producer) stands among the few producers who have successfully bridged the worlds of theater, film and television. His projects have garnered a combined 11 Oscar® nominations, 18 Tony Award® nominations, 16 Golden Globe® nominations and 19 Emmy® nominations.
Among Platt’s films are: the recent international hit “Into the Woods” starring Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp, directed by Rob Marshall; “Drive,” starring Ryan Gosling, which was awarded the Best Director prize at the 2011 Cannes International Film Festival; “Ricki and the Flash,” starring Meryl Streep, directed by Jonathan Demme; the smash hits “Legally Blonde” and its sequel, starring Reese Witherspoon; “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” directed by Edgar Wright; the critically- acclaimed “Rachel Getting Married” helmed by Oscar®-winning director Jonathan Demme and starring Anne Hathaway; the 2008 summer hit “Wanted” starring Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy, and Morgan Freeman; Ryan Gosling’s writing/directing debut, “Lost River,” starring Christina Hendricks; the musical “Nine” directed by Rob Marshall, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Sophia Loren, Kate Hudson and Fergie; “2 Guns,” starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg; “Cop Out” starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan; “Winter’s Tale” starring Colin Farrell and Russell Crowe; “Charlie St. Cloud” starring Zac Efron; “Song One” starring Anne Hathaway; “The Other Woman” starring Natalie Portman; “Honey”; “Josie and the Pussycats”; and “The Perfect Man.”Platt’s upcoming films include: “La La Land,” starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone directed by Damien Chazelle; and “The Girl on the Train” directed by Tate Taylor, based on the best-selling novel.
In theater, Platt is the producer of Broadway’s blockbuster “Wicked,” which The New York Times recently called “the defining musical of the decade.” “Wicked” is approaching its 12th anniversary on Broadway and three companies are now playing worldwide, including Broadway, London and a North American tour. In recent years “Wicked” has also had productions in Korea, Japan, Germany, Holland, Australia and Mexico City. Platt also produced the recent Broadway musical “If/Then” starring Idina Menzel, which commences a national tour this fall. In addition, he produced “Three Days of Rain,” starring Julia Roberts, Paul Rudd and Bradley Cooper; Matthew Bourne’s ballet “Edward Scissorhands,” for which he won his second Drama Desk Award; and the recent revival of “Pal Joey,” starring Stockard Channing.
In television, he won the Golden Globe® Award for Best Miniseries for “Empire Falls” (HBO) starring Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Ed Harris, Helen Hunt and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Platt also executive produced “Once Upon a Mattress,” starring Carol Burnett and Tracey Ullman (ABC); the Emmy® Award-winning miniseries “The Path to 9/11” (ABC); and the MTV hit series “Taking the Stage.”
Prior to establishing his production company, Platt served as president of production for three movie studios (Orion, TriStar and Universal). Platt is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and The Broadway League.
KRISTIE MACOSKO KRIEGER (Producer) is a longtime associate of Steven Spielberg at DreamWorks Studios. During her tenure with the company she has worked closely with Spielberg on a number of titles in various capacities.
Krieger is currently an executive producer on “The BFG.” Written by Melissa Mathison, based on Roald Dahl’s renowned children’s book, and directed by Spielberg, it’s the story of a young orphan girl who joins a friendly giant on a great adventure in giant country.
Previously, Krieger served as co-producer on “Lincoln,” based in part on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals,” directed by Spielberg from a screenplay by Tony Kushner, which starred Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones. The film received 12 Academy Award® nominations, winning two for Best Actor and Best Production Design, and grossed $275 million worldwide. As an associate producer her credits include: “War Horse,” based on Michael Morpurgo’s award-winning novel, which was directed by Spielberg and was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture; and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” also directed by Spielberg, which starred Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett and Shia LaBeouf and grossed over $700 million worldwide.
Next up, Krieger will produce “Ready Player One,” based on Ernest Cline’s novel, to be directed by Spielberg. Set in a dystopian world in the year 2044, it’s the story of one teen’s quest to solve puzzles buried in a virtual word called the Oasis. Krieger also brought DreamWorks the charming and funny New York Times best-seller “Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek,” which she will produce for the company.
Krieger began her career with the USC Shoah Foundation, where she served as head of worldwide publicity, before joining DreamWorks in 1997. She holds a degree from UC Davis.
ADAM SOMNER (Executive Producer) co-produced Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln.” He served as executive producer on recent Paul Thomas Anderson films “Inherent Vice” and “The Master.”
Somner was associate producer on Spielberg’s “The Adventures of Tintin,” and co-producer of “War Horse.” He also co-produced Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” and Ridley Scott’s “Exodus: Gods and Kings.”
Among his many credits as first assistant director are “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” “There Will Be Blood,” “Kingdom of Heaven,” “Munich,” “War of the Worlds,” “Seabiscuit,” “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” and many other films.
DANIEL LUPI (Executive Producer) most recently produced Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Inherent Vice,” starring Joaquin Phoenix. In 2013, he executive produced Spike Jonze’s critically-acclaimed, Oscar®-winning film “Her,” also starring Phoenix.
In 2012, Lupi executive produced Steven Spielberg's Oscar® and BAFTA-nominated biographical drama “Lincoln,” after previously working with Spielberg on “Catch Me If You Can.” Lupi also collaborated with Paul Thomas Anderson on the acclaimed drama “The Master,” starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix; “There Will Be Blood,” which received a Best Picture Oscar nomination; “Punch-Drunk Love”; “Magnolia”; “Boogie Nights”; and “Hard Eight.”
JEFF SKOLL (Executive Producer) is a philanthropist and social entrepreneur, working to bring life to his vision of a sustainable world of peace and prosperity. As the first full-time employee and president of eBay, Skoll developed the company’s inaugural business plan and helped lead its successful initial public offering and the creation of the eBay Foundation.
Over the last 15 years, he has created an innovative portfolio of philanthropic and commercial enterprises, each a distinctive social catalyst. Together, these organizations galvanize public will and mobilize critical resources to accelerate large-scale social impact. His approach is unique: driving social impact by investing in a range of efforts that integrate powerful stories and data with entrepreneurial approaches.
The Jeff Skoll Group supports his organizations, which include the Skoll Foundation, the Capricorn Investment Group, Participant Media and the Skoll Global Threats Fund. He created the Skoll Foundation in 1999 to pursue his vision of a more peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. The Foundation drives large-scale change by investing in, connecting, and celebrating social entrepreneurs and the innovators who help them solve the world’s most pressing problems.
Capricorn Investment Group was created in 2000 to demonstrate that it is possible to invest profitably while driving sustainable, positive change. Today Capricorn manages the assets for Jeff Skoll, the Skoll Foundation and others who strive for extraordinary investment results by leveraging market forces to accelerate impact.
Skoll founded Participant Media in 2004 with the belief that a story well told has the power to inspire and accelerate social change. Participant’s more than 60 films to date have collectively received a total of eight Academy Awards® and 37 nominations, and include “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” “The Help,” “Contagion,” “Lincoln,” “Good Night, and Good Luck,” “Syriana,” “An Inconvenient Truth,” “Waiting for ‘Superman’” and “Food, Inc.” Participant has also launched more than a dozen original series, including “Please Like Me,” “HitRECord on TV” with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and “Fortitude” for its television network, Pivot. Participant’s digital hub, TakePart, serves millions of socially conscious consumers each month with daily articles, videos and opportunities to take action.
He founded the Skoll Global Threats Fund in 2009, whose initial focus is on five global issues that, if unchecked, could bring the world to its knees: climate change, water security, pandemics, nuclear proliferation and Middle East conflict.
Skoll holds a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Toronto and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2012. His other recent honors include a career tribute at the Gotham Independent Film Awards (2012) and the John W. Gardner Leadership Award (2012).
JONATHAN KING (Executive Producer) is head of production for Participant Media’s narrative feature film division. Participant’s output is driven by the idea that a good story well told can lead to positive change in today’s world. Some recent Participant releases include “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” “Cesar Chavez,” “Lincoln,” “The Help,” “Contagion,” “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and the Oscar®-nominated film from Chile, “No.”
Prior to joining Participant, King worked as both a producer and an executive for companies including Focus Features, Laurence Mark Productions and Miramax Films. Some of the movies he has worked on include “Dreamgirls,” “The Lookout,” “Finding Forrester,” “Studio 54,” “Guinevere” and “Judas Kiss.” He started his film career in MGM/UA’s New York office, scouting books, theater and independent films.
King currently serves on the board of advisors for the Outfest Legacy Project, a partnership with the UCLA Film & Television Archive that restores and preserves important works of queer cinema. He also serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council of the Florida State University Film School and on the board of directors of the John Alexander Project, a new non-profit dedicated to nurturing and supporting innovative investigative journalism. He lives in Venice, California.
JANUSZ KAMINSKI (Director of Photography) has created some of the most lasting and memorable images in cinema history. He has been nominated for an Academy Award® six times, winning twice.
Kaminski emigrated to the U.S. from Poland as a political refugee in 1981. He graduated from Columbia College in Chicago and studied cinematography at the American Film Institute. Since that time he has enjoyed a long and illustrious collaboration with Steven Spielberg, first with the 1993 made-for-television film “Class of ’61,” on which Spielberg was executive producer. Together they went on to combine their talents on: “Schindler’s List” (for which Kaminski won his first Academy Award® for Best Cinematography); “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”; “Amistad,” for which he was nominated for an Oscar®; “Saving Private Ryan,” for which he received his second Academy Award; “A.I. Artificial Intelligence”; “Minority Report”; “Catch Me If You Can”; “The Terminal”; “War of the Worlds”; “Munich”; “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”; and “War Horse.”
Among Kaminski’s other credits as cinematographer are: “How Do You Know”; “Funny People”; “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” for which he won the prestigious Vulcan Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007 and received an Oscar® nomination; “Jumbo Girl”; “Jerry Maguire”; “Tall Tale”; “How to Make an American Quilt”; “Little Giants”; “The Adventures of Huck Finn”; and “Killer Instinct,” among many others.
Kaminski’s directing credits include: “Lost Souls” and “Hania” (on which he also served as cinematographer). He is also directing and working as cinematographer on “American Dream.”
ADAM STOCKHAUSEN (Production Designer) won an Oscar® for his work on Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” He was also nominated for his work on Steve McQueen’s Oscar-winning film, “12 Years a Slave.”
Among Stockhausen’s other credits are “Moonrise Kingdom,” “Scream 4,” “My Soul to Take,” “The Switch” and “Every Day.” As art director, Stockhausen’s credits include “The Darjeeling Limited,” “Margot at the Wedding” and “Synecdoche, New York.”
Stockhausen was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was educated at Marquette University and received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Yale University School of Drama.
Costume Designer KASIA WALICKA MAIMONE received an Excellence in Period Film nomination from the Costume Designers Guild for her work on Bennett Miller’s acclaimed “Capote” in 2006. In 2013, she was again nominated for her designs for Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom.”
Walicka Maimone reteamed with Miller on “Foxcatcher,” starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo, as well as on the award-winning “Moneyball.” Recent credits include “A Most Violent Year,” directed by J.C. Chandor, and “St. Vincent,” directed by Theodore Melfi.
Her additional credits include “Infinitely Polar Bear,” released earlier this year, as well as “The Adjustment Bureau”; “The Switch,” with Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston; “Little Manhattan”; “Jesus’ Son”; “The Opportunists”; HBO’s “Hysterical Blindness”; and “Songcatcher.” She also designed the costumes for Ang Lee’s BMW short, “Chosen”; Mira Nair’s segment “India” from “September 11”; and “Amelia,” a look at the life of legendary American pilot Amelia Earhart.
Her opera projects include Philip Glass’ “Les Enfants Terribles” and “The Sound of a Voice.”
Walicka Maimone has also participated in elaborate experimental theater pieces by Robert Woodruff (“Oedipus Rex”) and Richard Foreman (“Maria del Bosco” and “King Cowboy Rufus Rules the Universe”). She has also collaborated with choreographers Susan Marshall, Twyla Tharp, Donald Byrd and David Dorfman.
MICHAEL KAHN, A.C.E. (Editor) is one of the most acclaimed film editors of all time. He won Academy Awards® for editing “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan,” all of which were directed by Steven Spielberg. With seven Oscar® nominations, he is the most honored editor in motion picture history. Additionally, he has won two BAFTAs and has been nominated for four others. In 2011, Kahn edited Spielberg’s combination live-action animated feature “The Adventures of Tintin” and the Academy Award-nominated “War Horse.”
During his more than four decades of illustrious work, Kahn has distinguished himself as the editor of many now-classic films, including “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “The Color Purple,” “Empire of the Sun,” “Always,” “Ice Castles,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”
In addition Kahn edited “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” “Munich,” “The Terminal,” “War of the Worlds,” “Catch Me If You Can,” “Alive,” “Arachnophobia,” “Fatal Attraction,” “The Goonies,” “Poltergeist,” “1941,” “The Eyes of Laura Mars” and “The Return of a Man Called Horse.”
For television Kahn edited the movie “Eleanor and Franklin.” He began his career editing the popular television series “Hogan’s Heroes.”
THOMAS NEWMAN (Composer) is widely acclaimed as one of today’s most prominent composers for film. He has composed music for more than 50 motion pictures and television series and has earned 12 Academy Award® nominations and three GRAMMY® Awards.
He is the youngest son of Alfred Newman (1900-1970), the longtime musical director of 20th Century Fox and the composer of scores for such films as “Wuthering Heights,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “The Diary of Anne Frank” and “All About Eve.” As a child, Thomas Newman pursued basic music and piano studies. However, it was not until after his father’s death that the younger Newman, then age 14, felt charged with the desire to write.
Newman studied composition and orchestration at USC with Professor Frederick Lesemann and noted film composer David Raksin, and privately with composer George Tremblay. He completed his academic work at Yale University, studying with Jacob Druckman, Bruce MacCombie and Robert Moore. Newman also gratefully acknowledges the early influence of another prominent musician, the legendary Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim, who served as a great mentor and champion.
A turning point in Newman’s career took place while he was working as a musical assistant on the 1984 film “Reckless,” for which he soon was promoted to the position of composer. And so, at the age of 27, Newman successfully composed his first film score. Since then he has contributed distinctive and evocative scores to numerous acclaimed films, including: “Desperately Seeking Susan,” “The Lost Boys,” “The Rapture,” “Fried Green Tomatoes,” “The Player,” “Scent of a Woman,” “Flesh and Bone,” “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Little Women,” “American Buffalo,” “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” “Oscar and Lucinda,” “The Horse Whisperer,” “Meet Joe Black,” “American Beauty,” “The Green Mile,” “Erin Brockovich,” “In the Bedroom,” “Road to Perdition,” “Finding Nemo,” “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events,” “Cinderella Man,” “Jarhead,” “Little Children,” “The Good German,” “Revolutionary Road” and “WALL-E.”
His most recent projects include “The Debt,” “The Adjustment Bureau,” “The Help,” “The Iron Lady,” “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “Saving Mr. Banks,” “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “Skyfall,” “Side Effects” and “The Judge.”
Newman also composed the music for HBO’s acclaimed six-hour miniseries “Angels in America,” directed by Mike Nichols. He received an Emmy® Award for his theme for the HBO original series “Six Feet Under.” His upcoming projects include Pixar’s animated sequel “Finding Dory” and “Spectre,” Sam Mendes’ latest James Bond thriller starring Daniel Craig.
In addition to his work in film and television, Newman has composed several works for the concert stage, including the symphonic work “Reach Forth Our Hands,” commissioned in 1996 by the Cleveland Orchestra to commemorate their city’s bicentennial, as well as “At Ward’s Ferry, Length 180 ft.,” a concerto for double bass and orchestra commissioned in 2001 by the Pittsburgh Symphony. His latest concert piece was a chamber work entitled “It Got Dark,” commissioned by the acclaimed Kronos Quartet in 2009. As part of a separate commission by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the work was expanded and adapted for symphony orchestra and string quartet, and premiered at Walt Disney Concert Hall in December 2009. In October 2014, Newman and musician Rick Cox released “35 Whirlpools Below Sound,” an evocative, contemporary collection of avant-garde electronic soundscapes which the two collaborators developed over a period of 25 years, and which constitutes a fascinating departure from Newman’s work in film music.
Bridge of Spies is an original screenplay and not based on any underlying source material. However, if you want to read more historical information please see the following.
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