Watts plays Valerie Plame Wilson, the former CIA covert operations officer married to former Ambassador Joseph Wilson (played by Sean Penn), who made headlines in 2003 when her identity as an operative was exposed, reportedly in retaliation for her husband’s New York Times article concluding that rumors of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were exaggerated.
Plame’s outing sparked a media storm known as “Plamegate,” leading to questions about the involvement of then-Vice President Dick Cheney and others in the Bush White House, and ending with a perjury and obstruction conviction against Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby.
The case is now long over, but Watts suspects the film will rile up its viewers nonetheless.
“It is supposed to get under your skin; it was terrible what (Plame and Wilson) went through. To me, what was compelling is that both had strength in their convictions. They went through the most horrible fight you can imagine and they stood by their truth and managed to stay together,” Watts told Pop Tarts, adding that the film’s message is that everyone should “stand up and say the truth.”
“I am inspired by Valerie, and I can relate to her," Watts said, "but I definitely don’t have the strength she has. I don’t know many people that could take on that kind of fight and not cower or lose their marriage.”
But not everyone in showbiz is buying the film’s take on the drama.
“Big Hollywood” columnist John Nolte writes of the filmmakers: “These are pure propagandists and shameless liars who have infested Hollywood and who for decades have counted on the sick reality that those in the media charged with holding them accountable never will.”
And Variety’s Justin Chang called the film "another dated attack on the Bush administration’s handling of Iraq,” which served “too much righteous outrage” and lacked a necessary amount of solid drama.
Plame said the “distrust” citizens have in the government remains a prominent problem, despite the change at the top in the White House.
“As we go into the midterm elections, we see how deeply polarized this nation is and the distrust in the government. It’s painful. I came from a family where public service was considered very noble. My dad fought in World War II, and my brother was wounded in Vietnam,” she told us. “It’s so sad that people feel so disenfranchised and disassociated from those elected officials who you put in place to hopefully fix the problems. We’re in a difficult time.”
And while Hollywood isn’t exactly known for its utmost accuracy, Joseph Wilson, too, seems to also think that through the film, audiences will finally be able to learn the real story of “Plamegate.”
“I suspect most Americans now regret that they did not inform themselves better about what the government was planning to do before the government sent our citizens off to war,” he said. “We’re pleased to be able to tell that story in a way that will reach a lot of people. There were a lot of lies told about us; I’m glad the movie clears that up.”