Christopher Plummer played a memorable Mike Wallace in the Oscar-nominated film, but former "60 Minutes" producer Lowell Bergman says Michael Mann wanted the legendary newsman for the part
It turns out Christopher Plummer was not the first choice to play Mike Wallace in "The Insider."
Michael Mann, the director of the Oscar-nominated 1999 drama, wanted the legendary "60 Minutes" correspondent to play himself in the film about his interview with tobacco whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand, according to Lowell Bergman.
Bergman, a former producer on the CBS news program, told TheWrap that before filming took place he arranged for Mann to meet Wallace at the Beverly Wilshire hotel to discuss taking the part.
However, the conversation never happened and Wallace left the hotel before Mann arrived.
Bergman served as a consultant on the film, which Wallace hated and denounced as "dramatized excessively."
The movie depicted Wallace caving to CBS' corporate leadership after the network refused to air the Wigand interview over concerns about a potential lawsuit from tobacco company Brown & Williamson. Wallace claimed that he never agreed that the story should be killed.
Bergman says that he never put up much of a fight and claims that Wallace was upset that the film chronicles his refusal to push harder to get the segment aired.
"Before he left [the Beverly Wilshire] he said, 'you’ll take care of me,'" Bergman said. "What he meant was I wouldn’t tell the truth."
As for Plummer's memorably imperious depiction of the "60 Minutes" correspondent, Bergman thinks Wallace should be satisfied with how the performance turned out.
"If I were played by Christopher Plummer, I wouldn’t complain," Bergman said.
Not that Bergman has much to gripe about himself. After all, his shoes were filled by Al Pacino in the movie.
Wallace died last April at the age of 93.
Here's a memorable clip from "The Insider" with Plummer playing the late newsman.