Steven Spielberg’s new thriller The Post (in cinemas Friday) is a dramatic retelling of the story behind the Pentagon Papers leak in 1971. The leak blew the lid on a decades-long cover up over the impact of the Vietnam War to the American people.
The film is a rally cry for the freedom of the press, and it couldn’t be more timely in the era of President Trump and his “fake news” agenda.
Tom Hanks is Ben Bradlee, the Washington Post editor who – with his publisher Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) – decided to publish excerpts from the papers after Richard Nixon obtained a federal court injunction forcing the New York Times to cease publication.
Speaking to Yahoo, the Oscar-winner says it’s very easy to draw parallels between 1971 and 2017 with “the powers that be who want to maintain the status quo, and stop the truth from coming to light”, with Trump’s apparent obfuscation of the Russian collusion enquiry being a striking recent example.
However Hanks argues that The Post is apolitical, as the story of the Pentagon Papers represents an empirical truth of American political history.
“I don’t actually think there is a particular political slant to a movie like The Post,” explains the 61-year-old actor.
“Because we are, in fact, dealing with Richard Nixon. And Richard Nixon in 1971 – if you have any sense of of history – you’ll realise that there was, I think, a crack in our republic under what that President tried to do. If the parallels that exist today, well, that’s going to be in the eye of the beholder.
“You can have whatever opinion you want to have about the facts that we have in our film, but they are the facts. So you don’t get to alter them.”
With such an anti-Trump message at its heart, and with Hollywood’s penchant for left-leaning movies, we had to ask the Toy Story star who in Hollywood was catering for the millions of Americans who actually support the 45th President of the United States of America and voted him into power?
“That’s a good question,” Hanks counters.
“Without a doubt there is a constant preaching to the choir, particularly when it comes down to awards shows.”
“Who’s making movie for that percentage of the country that actually voted for [Donald Trump]? Well all movies are. Captain America, Wonder Woman is gonna be about that… The Florida Project. As long as the movies aim for a degree of authenticity, they’re for absolutely everybody, no matter what side of the political spectrum they’re on.”
The Post arrives in UK cinemas on Friday, 19 January. Watch our full interview with Tom Hanks below.