“Bad Education” star Allison Janney says she was “blown away by the layers of deception” detailed in the script of the movie, which does a deep dive into the largest embezzlement scandal in public school history.
“Bad Education” tells the true story of a Long Island superintendent, Frank Tassone (played by Hugh Jackman), who embezzled $2.2 million of taxpayer money from the school district. The real Tassone was sentenced to four to 12 years in prison for larceny. Janney plays another school executive. Rachel Bhargava, a junior reporter for the school paper (played by Geraldine Viswanathan), is assigned to do a puff piece on a proposed building project at the school. Against the wishes of her student editor (Alex Wolff) but encouraged to be a real journalist in a chance conversation with school superintendent Taccone, she begins digging into the school files and uncovers a broad-ranging pattern of false expenses and fraud.
“I don’t think [they] were bad people, I just felt [they] were misguided,” Janney told TheWrap’s Beatrice Verhoeven. “[They] had good intentions, but maybe made some bad choices… I was blown away by the layers of deception that went on, it was just fascinating.”
Viswanathan was drawn to the script because of the unlikely heroes of the tale.
“I am interested in characters that are forced into a situation – it’s interesting to see people out of their depth,” Viswanathan explained. “Rachel just stumbles into this situation because she followed her curiosity so I just thought that’s interesting — the heroes are the student newspaper staff writers.”
Wolff added, “I liked that when you see these type of movies, the people that break the stories are these hungry, altruistic people who want justice and I really liked that my character wants everything BUT justice — he doesn’t want to do it. Then he ends up doing the right thing. I thought that was a realistic portrait — probably a lot of the times when you have these bombshell stories, I bet people, especially young people, are afraid to speak up.”
Ultimately, director Cory Finley said the film is about “crime, education, and the uncomfortable relationship between education and money and capitalism.”
“Bad Education” was released on April 25 on HBO.
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