Entries in Osama Bin Laden (8)


Exclusive: 'Zero Dark Thirty' Based on Controversial Firsthand Accounts of Bin Laden Manhunt

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- It was the greatest manhunt of all time, the stealthy nighttime raid by the elite SEAL Team Six on Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan, which led to the death of the world's most wanted terrorist leader.

It is the subject of Zero Dark Thirty, a riveting new film by director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal, both of Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker fame. But when they began making a film about the hunt for bin Laden six years ago, right after they finished The Hurt Locker, the movie they had in mind was about the failed attempt to find bin Laden in the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan.

That plan changed drastically on May 1, 2011, when bin Laden was killed. Boal, a meticulous investigative reporter, picked up the phone and started working his sources.

"It was a thrilling journey to go on and also thrilling to discover what the people who were involved in this mission were really like," Boal said.


In an exclusive interview with Nightline, Bigelow and Boal talked about bringing Zero Dark Thirty to the screen based on Boal's interviews and Bigelow's dramatic vision. Martha Raddatz first met the filmmaking duo while Bigelow and Boal worked on The Hurt Locker, and had shared her insights with them about Afghanistan, where she has frequently reported.

"It was all based on firsthand accounts so it really felt very vivid and very vital and very, very immediate and visceral of course which is very exciting as a filmmaker," Bigelow said.

Bigelow said she and Boal were working in his office when they heard President Obama's now-famous announcement that the United States had "conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden."

"It was a personal moment for me because I grew up in New York City," Boal said. "I think for a lot of people, just kind of an overwhelming moment."

All of a sudden, Bigelow said it put their project in a very different perspective.

"It was not just as a film concern, it was kind of a global concern," she said. "We both realized simultaneously that we had to pivot."

"I picked up the phone and started calling sources and asking them what they knew and taking referrals and knocking on doors and really approached it as comprehensively as I could," Boal said.

Almost immediately, the filmmakers found themselves in the middle of an election-year firestorm, accused of receiving classified documents to bolster the president's role. It's something they both deny.

"I certainly did a lot of homework, but I never asked for classified material," Boal said. "To my knowledge I never received any."

In fact, President Obama makes only a fleeting appearance in the film. The star of this real-life drama is, surprisingly, a young female CIA officer, played by Jessica Chastain, who helps find bin Laden through a long-forgotten courier.

"It was a couple of months into the research when I heard about a woman, part of the team, and she has played a big role and she had gone to Jalalabad and been deployed with the SEALs on the night of the raid," Boal said.

"When I realized at the heart of this hunt, at the heart of this 10-year odyssey was this woman, this young woman who had a kind of tenacity and a dedication and a courage, she would never say no, I was excited to take it on," Bigelow said.

Both Bigelow and Boal felt a responsibility to accurately portray the lives of the people who normally work in the shadows, their efforts rarely known to the outside world. While some of the dialog is word for word real, based on interviews with the young CIA officer and others, some of the dialog is dramatized and the decade-long narrative of events condensed.

"They were proud of what they had done, but they had more or less resigned themselves to the fact that what they had done is not something they could talk about publicly," Boal said. "But one of the things a movie allows people to do is talk in a way that is a little bit freer because they know that movies can change the way people look, [and] that I don't have quite the same standards of having to reveal sources as I would if I was, let's say, running a front-page piece in the New York Times."

The climax of the film is, of course, the raid that killed bin Laden. The scene was a challenge for the filmmakers who were presenting it to a world that knew how it ended.

"But they don't know how it happened," Bigelow said. "They don't know, OK, what was the choreography of the assault itself, where did they land, where did they crash, who did they kill first?"

Although it only takes up about one-fifth of Zero Dark Thirty -- the title comes from the code for SEAL team's landing time of 12:30 a.m. -- the filmmakers said the assault on bin Laden's compound, like the rest of the film, is as accurate as possible. A full-scale version of the compound -- no Hollywood facades for this movie – was built in Jordan, where they shot for almost four weeks. The floor, the tile, the carpet, the furniture and the marks on the walls, were copied from images seen in ABC News footage that Bigelow said they reviewed frame by frame.

And the famous stealth helicopters that swept over the border into Pakistan were real Black Hawks with computer-generated graphics replicating the stealthy skin. Bigelow said the actors told of the terrifying and challenging conditions their real-life counterparts faced.

"You are in the elements, you are in the wind, you are in the sand, the sound of the rotor wash and you can't see anything. So you imagine what it would be like to land in this place," she said.

And Bigelow takes viewers beyond the clinical news accounts, the soundless descriptions and even though you might think you know how it ends, there is more to the story.

"For both of us I think it's fair to say the story itself and the making of it was really hard but really thrilling and exciting," Boal said. "Because you are at the center of something that is so epic and that doesn't come along very often and I think we were both aware of the fact that we probably won't have another story like this."

"I can't imagine," Bigelow said. "I think it's the story of a lifetime."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Osama Bin Laden Film to Air Two Days Before Presidential Election

AFP/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- A film about the killing of Osama Bin Laden will air on the National Geographic Channel on Sunday, Nov. 4, two days before the presidential election, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden features a cast that includes Cam Gigandet, Anson Mount and Xzibit. The broadcast comes more than a month before the theatrical release of Zero Dark Thirty, Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow's film on the bin Laden raid.

National Geographic Channels president Howard T. Owens tells The Hollywood Reporter the decision to air Seal Team Six two days before the presidential election was not motivated by politics.

"We're not trying for this to be political film. We have a fall schedule coming out and we want to be able to promote that schedule," Owens said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Bin Laden Movie Director Given Access to Classified Material?

AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The watchdog group Judicial Watch has revealed a trove of information gleaned from Freedom of Information Requests concerning director Katherine Bigalow and her Hurt Locker screenwriter Mark Boal's upcoming movie about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Specifically, in an effort to help shape "talking points" approved by the White House, the Defense Department granted Bigelow and Boal access to a normally secret, "Operator and Commander of SEAL Team Six," and a top-secret CIA facility called The Vault from which the bin Laden raid was launched.  The filmmakers were also allowed access to other information the Defense Department didn't want leaked to the public or the media.

The 153 pages of records uncovered by the group includes emails from Department of Defense and White House officials, showing a close cooperation on the movie's narrative, and how it can best project the Obama White House.

The watchdog group concluded, "It is both ironic and hypocritical that the Obama administration stonewalled Judicial Watch’s pursuit of the bin Laden death photos, citing national security concerns, yet seemed willing to share intimate details regarding the raid to help Hollywood filmmakers release a movie" that could, "give 'a home-stretch boost' to the Obama campaign."

The filmmakers insisted the Sony Pictures-produced film was in the works before President Obama took office and its motivations aren't political.  The movie, which has yet to be officially titled, was to be released before the November election. Its release date has since been bumped to December.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Osama Bin Laden Battle Brewing in Cannes

AFP/Getty Images(CANNES, France) -- The battle for bin Laden is on — that is, the battle to bring the killing of the Al-Qaeda leader to the big screen is on.

At the just-opened Cannes Film Festival, The Weinstein Company is close to buying Code Name Geronimo, a movie about the manhunt for Osama bin Laden. And, according to the Los Angeles Times, company chairman Harvey Weinstein has pretty much decided to release it in the fall — ahead of the presidential elections and the release of another bin-Laden-assassination film, Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty.

Sony Pictures had decided not to release Zero Dark Thirty, which features Joel Edgerton and Jessica Chastain, until December 19, presumably to avoid politicizing the film. The movie was already the subject of Congressional scrutiny over whether the administration had leaked classified information to the filmmakers.

Weinstein, who rolled out Michael Moore’s Farenheit 9/11 the summer before the Bush-Kerry contest in 2004, apparently has no such qualms.

Code Name Geronimo is directed by John Stockwell, the actor-turned-director behind such films as Dark Tide and Blue Crush. According to industry gossip website Deadline Hollywood, the deal for the film, which is still in post-production, is being negotiated in the $2 million range on the basis of a trailer and additional footage.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the film centers on the CIA, U.S. military brass and the Navy Seals who took the risky mission. The film is reportedly more modest in budget and scope that Zero Dark Thirty. Though Geronimo may have first-to-screen advantage, Zero Dark Thirty comes with a more impressive pedigree. It’s by the same team behind the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker — Bigelow and fellow Oscar-winner, screenwriter Mark Boal.

By the way, The Hurt Locker producer who shared in the Best Picture Award, Voltage Pictures’ Nicolas Chartier, has switched sides in this battle. He’s the producer behind Geronimo.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Osama Bin Laden Film Gets Release Date

AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Director Kathryn Bigelow's drama about the SEAL Team 6 mission to capture or kill Osama bin Laden will hit theaters on October 12, 2012, ABC News Radio has confirmed.

The as-yet-untitled project from Bigelow and her Hurt Locker screenwriter, Mark Boal, was already in motion before the al Qaeda leader was killed in May.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


NFL Star’s Osama bin Laden Tweet Provokes Backlash

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(PITTSBURGH) -- Rashard Mendenhall, of the Pittsburgh Steelers, caused quite the uproar after tweeting in response to Osama bin Laden's death, "What kind of person celebrates death? It's amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We've only heard one side...."

Later, he wrote, "We'll never know what really happened. I just have a hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style."

The Steelers' president, Art Rooney II, swiftly posted a statement online saying, "I have not spoken with Rashard so it is hard to explain or even comprehend what he meant with his recent Twitter comments. The entire Steelers' organization is very proud of the job our military personnel have done and we can only hope this leads to our troops coming home soon."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


What Will Happen to the Proposed Bin Laden Movie?

AFP/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- The death of Osama bin Laden could become a major headache for Kathryn Bigelow.

The director, who won a best director Oscar for best picture winner The Hurt Locker, is working on a new film, tentatively called Kill Bin Laden, according to The Hollywood Reporter.  The al Qaeda leader's death now may change the future of the project -- Kill Bin Laden is based on a failed Black Ops mission to capture him.

Bigelow reportedly will remain with the project, though it's not known how the script might change, if at all, due to bin Laden's death.  According to The Hollywood Reporter, there are several routes for the film, including adding bin Laden's death to the story or changing the plot altogether. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Katy Perry on Osama bin Laden: 'Great Day 4 America'

Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage(LOS ANGELES) -- After news of Osama bin Laden's death hit the Internet, pop star Katy Perry tweeted her reaction.

"...Does anyone else find it strange that this is announced on May Day... I am releaved [sic] in some ways, but have a feeling of uncertainty now," she posted.

Later, she added, "But in general (& then after this I'll go back to being an opinion less popstar) It is a GREAT day 4 America & I'm PROUD 2 b an American."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio