It took writer and director Aaron Sorkin fourteen years after the initial meeting with Steven Spielberg at his house on a Saturday back in 2006 to finally get “The Trial of the Chicago 7” made. And according to Sorkin, it finally came together thanks to former president Donald Trump.
“I don’t want to give Donald Trump credit for anything, but he’s the one who got Chicago seven made,” Sorkin tells moderator Jimmie Briggs at The Wrap’s screening series of the film. “Because he would have these protests, he would have these rallies, and there would be protesters at the rallies, and he would start getting nostalgic about the old days when they ‘Carry that guy out of here on a stretcher,’ ‘I’d like to beat the crap out of him,’ ‘Let’s punch him right in the face.'”
“Suddenly, American and Anti-American was being defined the old stupid way, if you’re protesting during the singing of the national anthem at a football game, if you’re silently kneeling, you don’t love America,” added Sorkin.
“Not only that but — I’m sure I’m not telling you anything you don’t know — ‘You’re ungrateful.’ You’re ungrateful to America as if what they really mean by that is that we white people have given you a chance to make a million dollars playing football and this is how you treat us? As if Colin Kaepernick didn’t work his ass off every day of his life to become an elite athlete and he gave it up! Gave it up to do the right thing! That knocks me out.”
Given the state of the country at time under Trump, Spielberg convinced Sorkin to go forward. “So Trump and his Trumpness made Steven Spielberg say now is the time to make this movie, and by then I had directed my first film, he said you’re gonna direct it, and now the riots of your problem,” Sorkin said. “We thought the film was plenty relevant last winter when we were making it, we didn’t need and certainly didn’t want it to get more relevant.”
“But plainly it did in May, with the killings of George Floyd and Brianna Taylor, protests breaking out and cities all across America, and in a number of those cities those protesters being met once again by riot clubs and tear gas. The grand finale on January 6th, Donald Trump stands at a microphone and does exactly what the Chicago 7 were on trial for doing.”
“The Trial of the Chicago 7” is based on a true story of a peaceful protest at the 1968 Democratic National Convention that turned into a violent clash with police and the National Guard and sparked a riot and trial that transfixed the nation. The organizers of the protest-including Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden and Bobby Seale-were charged with conspiracy to incite a riot, and the trial that followed was one of the most notorious in history.
Sorkin both wrote and directed “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” and it’s produced by Marc Platt, Stuart Besser, Matt Jackson and Tyler Thompson.
The film boasts a cast that includes Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Keaton, Frank Langella, John Carroll Lynch, Eddie Redmayne, Mark Rylance, Alex Sharp, Jeremy Strong, Noah Robbins, Danny Flaherty, Ben Shenkman, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Caitlin Fitzgerald, Alice Kremelberg, John Doman, J.C. MacKenzie, Damien Young, Wayne Duvall and C.J. Wilson alongside Sacha Baron Cohen.
Watch the full interview in the embed above.