In all of the scenes depicting President Nixon on the phone in the Oval Office, Nixon's actual voice is heard from White House tapes.
Steven Spielberg wanted to have his film released as quickly as possible given the parallels between its theme and the burgeoning political 'fake news' climate in the U.S. According to Meryl Streep, filming started in May (2017) and finished at the end of July (2017) and Spielberg had it cut two weeks later, an unprecedented feat. The gestation from script to final cut lasted a modest 9 months.
In his memoir, the real Daniel Ellsberg claimed that walking out of RAND with the Pentagon Papers (and returning them) over the course of months was a calculated risk, since he had never had his bag checked by security, but he did not know for sure if it was not policy to do so.
Tom Hanks is an aficionado and collector of vintage typewriters, and he actually tried out every one of the typewriters in the Post's newsroom during the shoot and took one of them, a Corona Zephyr, for his own collection. 'I tested every single one of those machines and I picked out the one for me," he said. "I informed the prop department, I'm either buying it or stealing it - it's up to them."
In scenes involving the Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg's original documents were used as props, including the pages that were scattered over the floor of Benjamin C. Bradlee (Tom Hanks') home.
The three primary sources for the screenplay's events and dialogue are Katharine Graham's memoir Personal History, Ben Bradlee's memoir A Good Life, and Daniel Ellsberg's memoir Secrets: a Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. Ellsberg was the only one of the principal characters still living at the time of filming. After consulting with Ellsberg, Steven Spielberg expanded on his role with the prologue depicting his disillusionment with the war and his copying of the Pentagon Papers. Originally in the script Ellsberg was going to be an unknown, off-screen character until Ben Bagdikian's meeting with him.
The Pulitzer Prize for journalism in 1972 was awarded only to The New York Times for its publication of the Pentagon Papers.
In real life Daniel Ellsberg lent his name to a paradox in decision sciences that he popularized. Termed the Ellsberg paradox, it demonstrates that human beings have an aversion to ambiguity and prefer a known devil to an unknown angel thus violating certain assumptions of rational decision making theory.
Never having previously collaborated with director Steven Spielberg in a director/actor capacity, Meryl Streep was flabbergasted to learn that Spielberg never rehearses with his actors. Co-star Tom Hanks was well aware of this idiosyncrasy but decided, in gleeful anticipation of a 'diva' reaction, not to tell Streep. Despite her initial shock, Meryl and Steven got along extremely well during the shoot with Spielberg being so impressed with her character transformation, he had difficulty restraining himself from constantly complimenting her every take on set.
The Post is dedicated to Nora Ephron, once married to Carl Bernstein who with Bob Woodward uncovered the Watergate scandal in 1972 as reporters for The Washington Post. Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks have both worked with Nora Ephron.
Early in the film, the White House bans Washington Post reporter Judith Martin from covering Tricia Nixon's wedding because Richard Nixon was incensed that Martin had earlier crashed the wedding of his other daughter, Julie Nixon. It's not mentioned, but Martin became the nationally syndicated etiquette columnist "Miss Manners," and in that capacity she now often advises against crashing parties.
Benjamin Bradlee's son, Ben Bradlee Jr., is depicted in Spotlight (2015) (played by John Slattery), a film based on the true story about the Boston Globe newspaper uncovering a major scandal. Josh Singer wrote both films.
Steven Spielberg screened his film for Katharine Graham's children, Lally Weymouth and Donald Graham, and Bradlee's widow Sally Quinn who, to his great relief, all approved.
Tom Hanks has a connection with both of the film's main characters' real-life counterparts. Hanks knew Ben Bradlee (portrayed by Hanks), and he met Katharine Graham (portrayed by Meryl Streep ) the day before she died.
Coincidentally, Benjamin C. Bradlee and wife Sally Quinn were Long Island neighbors of Steven Spielberg for many years, and they knew each other socially.
In the scene showing Vietnam War protesters, the words spoken by one of them are taken from Mario Savio's "Put your bodies upon the gears" speech during the 1964 Free Speech Movement at the University of California at Berkeley.
All of the newspaper sound in this movie was recorded with a vintage microphone from the 1970s. The newspaper prop used during foley recording was also a vintage newspaper from 1970s England. The newspaper back then had a much softer sound making the foley recording pretty authentic.
Although this goes unexplained in the movie, when Daniel Ellsberg and Tony Russo needed to photocopy the pilfered papers, the place they found to do it was an advertising agency founded by Russo's then-girlfriend, Lynda Harris Sinay. For allowing the photocopying to happen at her business, Sinay was pursued by prosecutors, but was designated an unindicted co-conspirator and was never actually prosecuted. Sinay, who subsequently married businessman Stewart Resnick, later became well-known as an entrepreneur and businesswoman; the Resnicks own such businesses as the floral delivery service Teleflora, Fiji Water, and POM Wonderful.
The Post is co-screenwriter Josh Singer's third film exploring the importance of journalism in uncovering political scandal following The Fifth Estate (2013) about Julian Assange's Wikileaks organization and Spotlight (2015), which follows the Boston Globe's investigation into Catholic child sex abuse allegations.
With this film, his fifth collaboration with Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks broke his tie with Harrison Ford to be the actor that Spielberg has directed the most times. Ford has also been directed by Spielberg five times, but his scene in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) was cut from the final film, even though the Oscar-nominated screenplay had been written by Ford's then wife Melissa Mathison.
Ken Burns allowed Steven Spielberg an early look at his 16 hour documentary TV series The Vietnam War (2017) as source material for the picture.
Michael Stuhlbarg is in three of the movies nominated for best picture Oscars: The Shape of Water (2017), Call Me by Your Name (2017) and The Post, but he was not nominated himself.
In a scene after the reporter learns of Neil Sheehan's story in The New York Times, there was a dialogue of conversation between Gen. Alexander Haig and Richard Nixon about the leaking of The Pentagon Papers. The conversation was an actual recording and the voice is a real voice of Richard Nixon and Gen. Alexander Haig. The Tapes were recorded from White House phone on June 13, 1971.
The Linotype operators are using a very distinct fingering with their index, middle, third finger, and thumb of both hands, different than a regular typewriter. The Post and other newspapers generally went to offset printing during the '70s. (Rather than setting metal characters and casting them in metal, the pages would be assembled from printed snippets glued on a "pasteboard", then photographed as negatives and output on oversize sheets of film, through which photosensitive plates would be exposed and then acid etched.)
Forty minutes into the film director Spielberg's son Sawyer Spielberg can be glimpsed as a plaza war protester (hippie headband and denim top) wielding a bullhorn. A minute later his sister Sasha Spielberg appears as the woman who hand-delivers an unmarked package to reporter Jake (Michael Cyril Creighton) at his newsroom desk, and then quickly retreats before he has had time to open it.
At just over one hour into the movie where Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) and Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) discuss the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the gruesome aftermath, the camera begins a 53-second unbroken snail zoom in on Bradlee as he sits talking on a couch, ending up on a tight shot of him. The smooth zoom is almost as unnoticeable as the 6-minute zoom it mimics from All the President's Men (1976) where Robert Redford (as reporter Bob Woodward) was similarly the sole focus of the shot.
"The Post" is dedicated to Nora Ephron, who was an American writer and filmmaker, known for many screenplays including Silkwood (1983), When Harry Met Sally... (1989), and Sleepless in Seattle (1993). Her last film was Julie & Julia (2009). She also wrote several novels including Heartburn. She was married to Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein, winner of a Pulitzer for his investigative reporting with Bob Woodward on Watergate. She had known the identity of Deep Throat since 1974. After her divorce from Bernstein (the details of which are chronicled in the book and film Heartburn) Ephron told anyone who asked about the identity of Deep Throat that it was Mark Felt. Ephron later conceded that "No one, apart from my sons, believed me."
The Post marks the 28th collaboration between composer John Williams and Steven Spielberg. The score uses a combination of both orchestral and sparse, light electronic elements throughout.
The original title for the screenplay was 'The Post', but it was retitled 'The Papers' once the project was put into preproduction. The title was changed back again in the postproduction stage.
Ben Bradlee says to the lawyer that the company's last lawyer is now Secretary of State. This is in reference to William Rogers, whose clients as a lawyer included The Washington Post Co.
Steven Spielberg made this movie while he was waiting for Industrial Light & Magic to create close to 1,500 digital effect shots for Ready Player One (2018).
This is the second film coming out in 2017 about a historical high-profile whistle-blower case. Steven Spielberg's The Post (2017) is based on Daniel Ellsberg and the release of the secret 'Pentagon Papers', while Landesman's Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House (2017) is based on Mark Felt and the Watergate scandal. Both films feature by coincidence Canadian actor Bruce Greenwood.
Steven Spielberg found the irony of time frame flipped numbers 19(71)-20(17) to be somewhat symbolic of a pendulum that had swung all the way back from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump.
Was filmed after director Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One (2018), but released before.
Steven Spielberg considers this to be his first political thriller. He classifies his earlier Bridge of Spies (2015) as an espionage thriller.
The film was chosen by the National Board of Review as the best film of 2017, and was named as one of the top 10 films of the year by Time and the American Film Institute.
This is Liz Hannah's first produced screenplay which was picked up as a spec script on the Black List website by producer Amy Pascal.
With her Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for The Post (2017), this is the first time that Meryl Streep has been nominated for an Academy Award for a performance in a film nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards since Out of Africa (1985), a gap of 32 years, despite the fact she has been nominated 15 more times since then. She is also the first Best Actress nominee for a Steven Spielberg film since Whoopi Goldberg for The Color Purple (1985) in 1986 and the first woman to receive an acting nomination for a film directed by him since Sally Field for Lincoln (2012) in 2013.
This is the first onscreen acting film collaboration and star teaming of actor Tom Hanks and actress Meryl Streep. The pair have both previously been credited for two pictures the two have both worked on but not in a top billing acting context. Streep did voice work for The Ant Bully (2006) and starred in Mamma Mia! (2008) which Hanks respectively was a producer and executive producer on.
Ben mentions his closeness to John F. Kennedy. The two were good friends and Kennedy had an affair with Ben's sister-in-law Mary Pinchot Meyer.
Katherine Graham passed away in 2001, so she was never able to see this film. She did, however see All the President's Men (1976) and was very impressed by it. While she had a major decision-making role in the events in that docudrama, she was nervous about being portrayed in the film, so her character was written out. After seeing the film she wished she had gone along with the original script. It is ironic that while she was not in the film about the events that are hinted at in this film, The Post is a film having the central focus on her..
When Daniel Ellsberg and his associates sneak into an office to use a photocopy machine (to reproduce the Pentagon Papers), a movie poster for the 1969 movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) is visible on the wall. That movie shared a star (Robert Redford ) and a screenwriter (William Goldman ) with the most famous filmed adaptation of the Nixon-era corruption scandals, All the President's Men (1976) (to which The Post makes many cinematic references).
On the night of the break-in at Watergate the Security Guard discovered the lock on a basement entrance taped open; he removed the tape. When he returned on his rounds again, he found the lock on the basement door was once again taped open. He immediately called the police, who caught the culprits red-handed planting bugs and stealing documents. Were it not for this Security Guard history would be quite different. His name was Frank Wills.
This is the first major film collaboration of actress Meryl Streep and director Steven Spielberg. Streep previously performed the voice of "The Blue Fairy" in Spielberg's A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001). Spielberg later wanted her to play Dr. Hineman in Minority Report (2002), but she had to back out and was replaced by Lois Smith.
When the scene is shown of Daniel Ellsberg beginning to make copies of the report, he is using the second model Xerox copy machine, the 914. It was so named because it was so slow it would have only made 914 copies of the same document per hour. To make a copy of the individual pages, the machine required about 10 seconds to deliver the first duplicate. Hence Ellsberg was correct that it took so long to get the copies made.
The last scene in the film depicts the discovery of the Watergate burglars. This is depicted immediately after Catherine tells Ben that she hopes to avoid such trying experiences as they had just gone through. The break-in and aftermath is the subject of All the President's Men (1976). While The Post was released 41 years after All The President's Men, it serves as a prequel to that film.
The decoration of Bradlee's office was based on actual photos from the period. The newsroom set was a full-size, near-perfect reproduction of the actual newsroom as it was in the late sixties. Rather than being on a sound stage, it was filmed in an actual office building. The huge number of approximately 100 vintage metal desks were covered with a realistic assortment of contemporary materials, including reference books, newspapers and other clutter. Many of the prop newspapers were reproductions of actual multipage sections of the real thing, digitally reprinted in limited runs. Due to the normal sound constant chatter of typewriters in a newsroom, the place tended to be fairly loud. In order to be as authentic as possible, the extras were encouraged to actually use the typewriters, as well as to talk and to carry on as if they were real reporters. Veteran reporters, who worked at the Post at the time in which this story is set, were brought in to consult on the authenticity. They remarked that the set was absolutely perfect, with one of them coming to tears because of the "time machine" effect of the experience.
With two nominations for Best Picture and Best Actress, The Post (2017) holds the distinction of being director Steven Spielberg's lowest-tally for a Best Picture-directed nominee ever.
The 10%-20%-70% quote by Ellsberg is from a memorandum by John T. McNaughton (dated 24 March 1965, document #96 in the Neil Sheehan book on the actual Pentagon Papers). It describes how little of the US involvement was to directly help the South Vietnamese people (10%) relative to achieving other US geopolitical aims (20%+70%). McNaughton was the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs at the time, and Daniel Ellsberg was his special assistant for Vietnam.
The "History and Mission" section of the RAND Corporation's own website explains that the company's name is derived from contracting the words in the term "Research ANd Development."
Bob Odenkirk and Jesse Plemons both previously starred in Breaking Bad (2008), while Carrie Coon and Michael Stuhlbarg previously starred in the third season of Fargo (2014), which also featured Odenkirk and Plemons in previous seasons. David Costabile (Art Buchwald in The Post) also starred in Breaking Bad where he played Gale Boetticher,
Actors Tracy Letts and Carrie Coon are a married couple in real life. Though they have collaborated on stage before, this is the first feature film in which both of them appear.
David Cross and Bob Odenkirk have worked together on various projects before, most famously the sketch comedy series Mr. Show with Bob and David (1995).
This is Steven Spielberg's first film since War of the Worlds (2005) to be filmed in 1.85:1 and his first film to use said ratio through the Super 35 format.
When musing about the death of her husband Katherine says that up until then she had never held a job in her life. This is not true. She'd held several positions, including as a lower tier editor at the Post before she married. While this might appear to be a goof, this was done deliberately as a dramatic device.
By appearing in three Best Picture Oscar nominees in 2017, The Shape of Water (2017), Call Me by Your Name (2017) and this film, Michael Stuhlbarg overtook co-star Meryl Streep, in number of Best Picture nominees that each has appeared in. Michael Stuhlbarg has appeared in seven films nominated for the coveted award released by the end of 2017, while Meryl Streep has appeared in only six.
Michael Cyril Creighton appeared in another newspaper drama, Spotlight (2015), which was written by the co-screenwriter of this film, Josh Singer.
Bruce Greenwood portrayed John F. Kennedy in the film Thirteen Days (2000). In this film, he portrays Kennedy's defense secretary Robert McNamara.
Katharine Graham, The Washington Post publisher whom Meryl Streep portrays, was sometimes called "The Iron Lady" by her colleagues. Meryl Streep played a different Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, in the 2011 movie The Iron Lady (2011).
Ben Bradlee was previously played in All the President's Men (1976) by Jason Robards, who played Tom Hanks's boss in Philadelphia (1993). Both Robards and Hanks are (as of 2018) the last actors to receive back-to-back Oscars - with Hanks winning two as Best Leading Actor while Robards winning two as Best Supporting Actor - his first for playing Ben Bradlee.
While scenes were being shot in the newsroom Tom Hanks would often stay in his office, which looked out into the newsroom while he wasn't on camera, spending the time reading, writing, or going over scenes with other actors, even though he was so far in the background as to go unnoticed.
It marks as the very first time Steven Spielberg's regular editor Michael Kahn edits his film along with another editor, in this case Sarah Broshar, who has credits as associated editor in the previous Spielberg films. This is also the second Spielberg film to be edited by two people; the first film was Spielberg's theatrical debut, The Sugarland Express (1974), which was edited by Edward M. Abroms and Verna Fields.
Meryl Streep and Philip Casnoff dated in the 1970s when she was at Yale University and he was at Wesleyan University.
Meryl Streep and Tracy Letts previously collaborated together in the film August: Osage County (2013), which was written by the latter. Streep, Letts and Bob Odenkirk would later went on to collaborate together in Little Women (2019), with Amy Pascal serving as producer (who also produced this film).
Sixty-one-year-old Tom Hanks plays 50-year-old Ben Bradlee. While Ben Bradlee is 3 years older than his wife, Antonette (Tony), the actors have a 17-year age gap.
Co-screenwriter Josh Singer and actor Bradley Whitford both worked on The West Wing (1999).
This is the third film collaboration between actors Tom Hanks and Bradley Whitford. Their two prior films together were: Philadelphia (1993) & Saving Mr. Banks (2013).
It is raining in nearly all of the brief scenes of the Vietnam War. In Forrest Gump (1994), the title character played by Tom Hanks, who also stars in this film, serves in the war and mentions on two occasions how much it rained there.
This is the third movie where Steven Spielberg portrays a case before the Supreme Court, after Amistad (1997) and Bridge of Spies (2015) .
Michael Cyril Creighton who plays Jake a young reporter who was given a shoe box of evidence was also in the movie Spotlight. He played a man who helped reporters from the Boston Globe with stories about the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. At the time of their writing Ben Bradlee Jr was in charge of the Globe.
Meryl Streep has previously co-starred with several actors from All the President's Men (1976). She co-starred with Dustin Hoffman (Carl Bernstein) and Jane Alexander (who played the bookkeeper, Judy Hoback) in Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), and with Robert Redford (Bob Woodward) in Out of Africa (1985). Streep also appeared with Jason Robards (Benjamin C. Bradlee) and Hal Holbrook (who played Mark Felt, a.k.a. "Deep Throat") in her first film, Julia (1977), although she didn't have any scenes with either actor. Additionally, Streep appeared in Silkwood (1983) with Henderson Forsythe, who played Ben Bradlee in Chances Are (1989).
Sarah Paulson and Bruce Greenwood also starred in American Crime Story (2016) (The People vs. O.J. Simpson).
This is the second time Bradley Whitford, Jesse Plemons, and Zach Woods are in a film together. They all stared together in Other People (2016).
Robert McNamara and Katherine Graham are depicted as being old friends. They had known each other since the 1960s and, after his wife Margaret died in 1981, he briefly dated Katherine Graham.
During the scene where Bradlee's team begins to research the Pentagon Papers in his house, Tom Hanks ad libs, telling a staffer to stop playing chopsticks. This was a reference to when he played "Chopsticks" with Robert Loggia on an electronic piano map in the movie Big (1988).
Bruce Greenwood previously appeared in Truth (2015) with Robert Redford, who plays Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward in All the President's Men (1976).
Meryl Streep's previous film for Steven Spielberg was A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001). That film also featured Sam Robards, whose father, Jason Robards Sr., played Ben Bradlee in All the President's Men (1976).
Ben Brdlee and Richard Nixon were distantly related to each other. Both are descendants of the same English Baldwin Family.
One of the three times Tom Hanks had played a distant cousin. He played Walt Disney in Saving Mr Banks and Fred Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.
Second collaboration between Tom Hanks and Bradley Whitford. They were both in Saving Mr. Banks playing Walt Disney and Mary Popins producer Don Dagradi.