‘Democ­racy was at stake’

‘Mark Felt’ biopic turns lens on Water­gate whistle­blower ‘Deep Throat’

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - ENTERTAINMENT - BY LAU­REN LA ROSE

The di­rec­tor of a new biopic on the in­fa­mous “Deep Throat’’ Water­gate whistle­blower sees po­ten­tial par­al­lels be­tween the 1970s U.S. po­lit­i­cal scan­dal and the cur­rent probe in­volv­ing the White House.

Spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller, a for­mer FBI di­rec­tor, is lead­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the last U.S. elec­tion, and po­ten­tial ties to Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign.

Film­maker Peter Lan­des­man thinks the Mueller probe is “head­ing in a very sim­i­lar di­rec­tion’’ to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion that led to the res­ig­na­tion of for­mer U.S. pres­i­dent Richard Nixon.

He chron­i­cles the role of whistle­blower “Deep Throat,’’ played by Liam Nee­son, in the new film “Mark Felt: The Man Who Took Down the White House,’’ which hits theatres Fri­day in Toronto, Van­cou­ver and Mon­treal.

“The dif­fer­ence is that this pres­i­dent is iso­lated from ev­ery­body around him,’’ said Lan­des­man dur­ing an in­ter­view at the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val last month. “The su­per struc­ture is sort of fall­ing around him on a daily ba­sis. It feels in­evitable.’’

The Water­gate scan­dal cen­tred on a break-in and at­tempted bug­ging at the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee’s head­quar­ters at the Water­gate Ho­tel and of­fice com­plex in the months be­fore the 1972 elec­tion.

The film takes a deep dive into the un­cov­er­ing of the crime and coverup from the view­point of the FBI.

Af­ter the death of J. Edgar Hoover, spe­cial agent Felt is passed over as the late FBI di­rec­tor’s suc­ces­sor.

Felt is se­lected as as­so­ciate di­rec­tor, yet finds the Nixon ad­min­is­tra­tion is at­tempt­ing to keep tight reins on both him and his col­leagues, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to the Water­gate break-in.

It was only in 2005 that Felt, then 91, re­vealed to the world that he was “Deep Throat,’’ the mys­te­ri­ous source who leaked in­for­ma­tion about the White House coverup to Wash­ing­ton Post re­porters Bob Wood­ward and Carl Bern­stein.

“His anonymity is also a part of his mythol­ogy and I think also such a part of who he is in re­la­tion to this story,’’ said Lan­des­man, an award-win­ning in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist and war cor­re­spon­dent.

“To me, the true mea­sure of self­less­ness is to do some­thing with­out putting your name on it. His anonymity, to me, just proves his hero­ism and self-sac­ri­fice be­cause what he did was ac­tu­ally uni­ver­sally good.’’

Nee­son said he thinks Felt — who died in 2008 — was “per­son­ally crushed’’ over be­ing snubbed for the top FBI job, which may have mo­ti­vated him to start spilling se­crets to the Wash­ing­ton Post.

The ac­tor — who hails from a small town out­side the North­ern Ire­land cap­i­tal of Belfast — ad­mit­ted he was only vaguely aware of Water­gate prior to film­ing. It was through his re­search for the movie that he ap­pre­ci­ated the mag­ni­tude of the story.

Nee­son thinks Water­gate con­tin­ues to have mod­ern day res­o­nance be­cause “democ­racy was at stake.’’

“A man who could have gone down as one of Amer­ica’s great pres­i­dents was shown to be a crook and crim­i­nal who thought he was above the law,’’ Nee­son said.

“In­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism found that out, and we’re all richer be­cause of it.’’

CP PHOTO

Ac­tor Liam Nee­son is shown in a scene from the film “Mark Felt - The Man Who Took Down the White House.”

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