Script asks: 'How did an alcoholic bum become most powerful leader in world?'
Ed Pilkington in New York
Thursday April 3, 2008
How different the world might look now if the US president and his advisers had settled on the phrase Axis of Unbearably Odious, or Axis of Hatred. But they rejected that and instead plumped for Axis of Evil, and the rest is history.
So begins the script to Oliver Stone's new movie, W, on the life of George W Bush, which begins filming this month and will be produced at speed. Stone, a director with a keen eye for publicity, is thought to want to get the film into cinemas before the November presidential election, and certainly before Bush quits the White House on January 20.
He insists that the film will be an accurate and fair portrait of Bush the man, though historical objectivity is not one of Stone's strong points, judging by his previous presidential efforts, Nixon and JFK, The writing team appears to have pored over a considerable library of books and magazine articles on Bush and plucked out the tastiest rumours and juiciest morsels of gossip. There are plenty of Bushisms in the script, and scenes of him drinking vodka and orange cocktails.
In the director's own words, the film will address the question: "How did Bush go from being an alcoholic bum to the most powerful figure in the world?"
The part of Bush will be played by Josh Brolin, no stranger to Texan roles, having been in the Coen brothers' Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men. Elizabeth Banks of Spider-Man and The 40-Year-Old Virgin is expected to play the first lady.
ABC News, which has read an early copy of the screenplay, describes it as a "warts-and-all portrayal", though judging by its account of the script it might more accurately be called a "warts-and-yet more warts" portrait.
Bush's early relationship with his father is depicted as problematic at best. When his father confronts him about his drinking after he crashes his car, the younger George Bush replies: "Mr Perfect. Mr War Hero. Mr Fucking God Almighty." The father also features heavily in the latter half of the screenplay, by which time Dubya has entered the world of politics.
Stone, a critic of the Iraq war, applies cod psychology to the president's motivations for the invasion, according to ABC's account of the screenplay. After the elder Bush's defeat in 1992 by Bill Clinton, his son tells him he would still be in the White House if he had toppled Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf war.
When the current president is asked in 2002 what his focus on Saddam is all about, he replies, in reference to a Kuwaiti claim that the Iraqi intelligence services plotted to assassinate his father during a visit to Kuwait in the spring of 1993: "You don't go after the Bushes and get to talk about it. Ya got me?"
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