The long-awaited HBO adaptation of David McCullough's Pulitzer Prize winning John Adams got the green light a year ago, and the seven-part mini series will be premiering this Sunday, March 16th, at 8:00 PM (EST).
The second episode of "John Adams" had a special screening at the Museum of Modern Art last week with Davis McCullough, Director Tom Hooper, Executive Producer Tom Hanks and stars Paul Giamatti (John Adams) and David Morse (George Washington). Here is what they told Huffington Post about the making of the film, how our current candidates wouldn't last a day in the 16th century, and how 2008 may be our most historic year yet.
David McCullough (Author) on 2008 vs. 1797:
"This year, very historic. Very. You're seeing history made right now and there's not enough appreciation of that. It's truly... something phenomenal is happening right now. They (John Adams and his peers) didn't know how it was going to turn out, but they knew that they were involved in one of the most important revolutions in all of history. And they said so. Adams says so. He says so in the film. And what he says in the film is what he really said. That's a very important point because he, because these lines are again again and again exactly what he said. They're not made up."
"I'll tell you. Deceased politicians are my specialty, not the living ones. Because I think you have to wait about 50 years for the dust to settle. You have to know what comes afterward in order to make a fair appraisal. When Harry Truman left office, he had a rating lower than what President Bush has now. And we now see that he was a very great president. Now that doesn't guarantee that someone with a low rating always winds up having a great... being perceived as an important and great president. But you don't know what's going to come next. Nor did they then anymore than we do now."
David Morse (George Washington) on donning a prosthetic nose:
"There's no hiding that nose. I've done other things. That, that nose actually was something. When I saw, you know, the wigs and everything, and I studied all the kinds of paintings, the thing that I kept seeing was, he has the nose of a commander. I don't have the nose of a commander. As soon as I put on that nose, my nose started running. And it did not stop for the entire shoot. And I could not blow my nose the whole time I had it. But, the biggest obstacle.. I don't know if there's success with it. I kept trying to find things trying to make George Washington more human. Which is what we were really there to do. But every time I did those little things there'd be some expert there saying "No no, Geroge Washington doesn't behave like a human being, He doesn't behave like that." And so trying to find that thing inside while portraying that outward guy, that was the trick."
Tom Hooper (Director) on learning from history:
"At a time at when we're constantly told America has two irreconcilable sets of values and it's a deeply divided nation, to go back to what that store of values was that united people in this extraordinary way, and at the same time, because the series spans 50 years, we see the descent from unity into the sort of vicious party political infighting that characterizes modern electioneering."
"I certainly, you know, one thing that occurred to me which is maybe obvious but I think very interesting, is that America came into being through the successful prosecution of a war. In other words they said, "No, let's fight now, let's take the war on even though it's incredibly unlikely we're going to win. And the fact that the nation came to being through going into war, which perhaps they could have avoided or delayed, I mean Canada didn't even get into that situation. You know, it does somehow explain to me the relation between America and American militarism in a way I hadn't thought about."
"I think the great thing about this story is that parallels were there and you didn't even have to emphasize them. You know, in Adams' presidency, he spends the whole presidency trying to keep out of a war with France that he thinks is unnecessary. And there's this key scene where they go "but John, if you go for this war you'll be reelected because you'll be popular. We need the idea of an enemy. The idea of an enemy galvanizes support for you." And he goes, "No, I'm not having it. I'm not going to fight an unnecessary war simply for my own selfish ends and my own pursuit of power." And there's, you know, an obvious parallel there which is very clear. But that's all there, I mean you don't have to emphasize it or at all distort it to make a contemporary point."
Paul Giamatti (John Adams) on the US President he would most like to play:
"Warren G Harding! Yeah, he was the guy who was always banging around the Oval Office. Well, umm, he among others. But you know, he was the guy."
Tom Hanks (Executive Producer) on the 2008 election season:
"The modern age is just so cheesy in comparison. Because at least back then, you know, back then they'd write a paper. And that paper would be inflammatory, but that paper would exist for weeks and months. Now, every time these people get a microphone stuck in their face it all sounds the same after a while. It doesn't matter what party it is, it all sounds like "I believe that goodness is better than badness, and I believe that there is no family in America that doesn't want to work for the American family. And I vow to you that if I am elected -- if I am the nominee -- working for the American family is the first work that I shall do for the American family." It's all just boring, geez. It's not exactly great television even when I do it. No, I think they were even tougher back then. I think just the climate alone: the lack of air conditioning alone would destroy most of the political candidates today."