An Interview With "Charlie Wilson's War" Director Mike Nichols:

03/28/2008 02:45 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Cathleen McGuigan Newsweek

Any hack can film a sex scene, but director Mike Nichols is a connoisseur of pre- and postcoital moments. He was the guy, don't forget, behind that indelible image of Anne Bancroft slipping off her nylon stocking in "The Graduate," as Dustin Hoffman hovered near the hotel-room door. Now, in "Charlie Wilson's War," he stages an après-sex scene between Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts in which he avoids the cliché of "sheets tangled just so, and the man getting out of bed in his boxer shorts," as Nichols puts it. He places his actors in a palatial bathroom, with Hanks, as the hard-partying Texas congressman Wilson, soaking in the tub, while Roberts, as a Houston socialite who's his occasional lover, sits in front of a mirror applying her makeup. Now that she's slept with him, there are a few things she wants--items not available from Neiman Marcus. And as she talks, she concentrates on separating her thickly mascaraed eyelashes with the lethal end of a safety pin.

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