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Backstage Interview Transcript: Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

CATEGORY: Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
SPEECH BY: Graham Moore 


Q.    Alan Turing is arguably one of the greatest gay heroes of the past century.  When you took time to write this adaptation, did you feel any added pressure knowing that because there are so few films that represent the LGBT community accurately?

A.    Yeah, I certainly did.  I mean, when you're approaching a story of this magnitude and you're approaching a life and a person as unique as Alan Turing, there's this tremendous responsibility on your shoulders and I felt a tremendous responsibility on my shoulders to tell his story fairly and accurately and responsibly.  Alan is someone who was so mistreated by history.  He is someone who, as a gay man, was persecuted by the government on whose existence he provided for.  And, as such, I always felt like he needed a film that spread his legacy, that celebrated it and brought it to a new audience of people who might not otherwise have been exposed to this man because history had treated him so poorly.


Q.    Graham, that was a very emotional speech you made on stage.  How difficult was it for you to talk about something so personal to such a global audience?

A.    Well, you know, the cameras are just little back circles so it's not like I see a billion people when I'm out there looking around.  No, it was really hard, but it felt ‑‑ I don't know, I'm a writer, when am I ever going to be on television?  This was my, like, 45 seconds in my life to get on television and say something so I felt like I might as well use it to say something meaningful.


Q.    Both you and Morten Tyldum, this was the first movie you wrote the screenplay for and Morten was the first time he had been nominated for ‑‑

A.    Yeah, his first English language film, yeah.

Q.    Is there any chance you want to work with him again?

A.    I would work for Morten this very second if he were shooting a movie.  Working with Morten was one of the greatest creative collaborations of my life and I would follow that man into the gates of hell itself.  So whenever Morten wants me there I'll be there.


Q.    You shared your story a little bit for the world.  I wonder if you can talk about what helped you turn it around when you got that low?  What was the key to get you back to where you're on an Oscar stage?

A.    Well, 20 years later.  It's been a little while.  And it's something ‑‑ depression is something that I have dealt with every single day of my life since.  But I'm very blessed to have a family that was so supportive then and has been so supportive ever since.  My mother who is just over there somewhere was sitting next to me tonight, and I know for her who has seen me in all the stages of this, it was really meaningful.  And I feel very blessed to have had friends and family around who are so supportive, and not everyone gets to have that.  I'm very aware of how lucky I am to have been so blessed. 


Q.    Beautiful speech. 

A.    Thank you.


Q.    So a lot of this film follows the process of invention and discovery, which is a very internal process.  The film of course is a very visual medium.  As you were thinking about how to tell the story, what were you thinking about as far as translating that into a story we could watch?

A.    Yeah, good question.  All wartime thrillers should really be about mathematicians, right, because nothing is so thrilling as mathematics.  No, that was a definite challenge.  What we wanted to do was make a film that recreated Alan Turing's subjective experience of the war.  So one of the big ideas to try and sort of take you inside Alan's head was on our part to say, okay, so what did the process of breaking Enigma feel like for Alan?  How did he experience it and how can we then sort of digest that and put it on screen in a way that the audience will experience it as well?  So if you imagine, Alan Turing was 27 years old when he got to Bletchley Park.  He had never been outside of a university environment in his life and all of a sudden there's this sort of fate of the free world war going, and he's working alongside the highest levels of MI6 to crack this incredibly important code.  Ian Fleming, who was in MI6 at the time, was literally working alongside him.  And so Alan Turing is literally living inside of a James Bond novel.  So the idea was like, okay, let's show the process of breaking Enigma as a thriller because Alan would have experienced it as a thriller, and so let's show those moments of discovery and struggle the way he would have experienced them. 


Q.    I was wondering if you can relate at all personally to this story and if it inspired you and kind of changed your life in any way. 

A.    Yeah, I've been obsessed with Alan's story since I was a teenager.  I feel very lucky to have known it when I was very young and to have known about him.  He was always a tremendous hero of mine.  He always seemed like someone who ‑‑ Alan always seemed like sort of the outsider's outsider, this guy who never fit in in his own time for so many reasons.  Because he was the smartest man in every room he entered, because he was a gay man at a time when that was not simply frowned upon, but was literally illegal, and then because he was keeping all these secrets for the government.  And so he was the guy who was sort of apart from society for so many different reasons, but precisely because he was apart from society he was able to see the world in a way that no one else had, and I always found that incredibly inspirational.


Q.    Congratulations.  What will you be doing next?

A.    Going to the party.  I'm finishing my second novel.  So my first came out four years ago and so I'm almost done with my second.


Q.    Is there anyone back at home who you would particularly think about sort of being inspired or affected by you winning this award tonight?

A.    My friends.  I don't know, Mom, what do you think?  I have a lot of close friends from high school who we'd stay in touch.  We actually, this is a funny story, my high school friends and I have had an Oscar pool every year as a group of friends for the last 15 years, 18 years, something like that, since high school.  And I will say that I have historically been the most winning predictor among my group of friends on who was going to win the Oscar, but I think I lost the pool tonight because I did not have myself.  So I'm getting a lot of text messages from my friends back in Chicago who are proud of me for winning an Oscar but even more proud that they have won the Oscar pool. 




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