‘Spotlight’ Director Tom McCarthy Talks Researching ‘Disturbing’ Church Scandal (Video)

“It’s incredibly disturbing to see the back and forth between the Archdiocese and victims,” McCarthy tells TheWrap CEO Sharon Waxman about documents detailing the abuse

“Spotlight” director Tom McCarthy remembers sifting through the reams of documents that exposed the sexual abuse scandal involving Catholic priests in Boston, just a week after he signed on to direct the film.

“These huge binders started showing up at my office of all these documents that were pulled, and just reading through them, it’s incredibly disturbing to see the back and forth between the Archdiocese and victims, survivors or families of victims. It’s heart-breaking,” McCarthy said in an interview with TheWrap’s CEO Sharon Waxman and Martin Baron, who led the real-life investigation by the Boston Globe.

“Spotlight,” starring Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo and Brian d’Arcy James follows a team of Boston Globe journalists who uncover a massive history of child molestation among priests in the Catholic church. Since its debut at The Venice Film Festival in September, it has received stellar reviews and multiple awards nominations.

Baron said the reason he was interested in pursuing the story was because he wanted to show that this wasn’t just a singular abuse scandal — it was known throughout the community yet essentially kept secret.

“I was interested in a story that would go beyond numbers,” said Baron. “It was already known there were priests who committed abuse, there were folks who have written about this subject, there were stories written about this subject — What I wanted us to show was that there was a policy and practice within the church … and this would be a violation of their core responsibilities.”

McCarthy sat with the real journalists to make sure the cast and crew would “triangulate and recreate” the story as best as they could “It’s a movie, it’s not a documentary,” the director said.

And Baron, although he criticized “some of the most insanely small details,” thought that the movie turned out great.

“I think it did a great job at capturing the themes of that investigation,” he said. “It did not turn us into superheroes, it showed that we are fallible and we certainly are. Our profession is highly imperfect — but not withstanding the imperfections, we perform a very important role in society.”

Watch the interview above.