Screenwriter Mark Boal responds to Senate inquiry into the CIA’s involvement with ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

Feb 12, 2013

85th Academy Awards Nominations Luncheon - Inside

Writer Mark Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow attend the 85th Academy Awards Nominations Luncheon at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 4, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

The controversial and highly reviewed “Zero Dark Thirty” follows the life of Maya for ten years as she tracks data and learns torturous interrogation techniques in search of a possibly fictitious or even dead man that could end the manhunt for Osama Bin Laden. Many film critics have praised this movie, and it has been nominated for and won an impressive resume of awards. However, angry protestors in the film industry and in Washington D.C. have serious issues with “Zero Dark Thirty” portraying torture as government’s effective way to obtain information.

 Journalist-turned-writer Mark Boal, who wrote “Zero Dark Thirty,”  joins Larry to talk about the research involved in creating this movie and responds to attacks of being pro-torture. Also, perhaps Boal can relate to his character, young CIA officer Maya, in working on something for years and in moments, wondering if all that time was wasted. Initially Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow worked for two years on a film about the unsuccessful capture of Bin Laden. When Bin Laden was killed on May 2, 2011, Boal and Bigelow needed to scrap their movie and begin again on an up-to-date script. However, like Maya, that time was not wasted and much of his research and interviews led to the creation of “Zero Dark Thirty.” In addition to firsthand accounts of the manhunt, Boal also relied on his own experience as a journalist in Iraq.

Where does fact meet fiction? As a journalist and screenwriter, did Boal have a hard time mixing the two together? What does Boal want you to take away from his movie? How does Boal respond to accusations of being pro-torture?


Mark Boal, Writer and Producer of Oscar-nominated “Zero Dark Thirty;” Writer and Producer of Oscar-winning, “The Hurt Locker”

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