02/23/2015 03:05 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Academy Award Winning Screenwriter of The Imitation Game on Oscars, Research, and Discrimination Against Gay Men and Women

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Answers by Graham Moore, Screenwriter, The Imitation Game

What was it like to get nominated for an Oscar?

Being nominated for an Oscar, especially for [The Imitation Game], has been just a tremendous thrill. I was at home in LA when I found out. They announce the nominations at 5:30 am, and I am way too OCD to allow anything related to our movie to happen without my knowing about it instantly, so I woke up for the announcements. A bunch of my neighbors, who I'm close to, came over to watch the nominations come in. I was trying to make coffee for everyone, and was pouring water into the machine when they said my name. I spilled water everywhere. While it was messy, it was such a proud moment that I was able to share with all these people who've known me for years.

Is it difficult to write a screenplay about someone's life without having met them?

Yes, very much so. There exists no audio or video recording of Alan Turing. Everything you see in The Imitation Game about his personality and manner comes from first-hand recollections by people who knew him. Most of the people who worked with him have passed away, but we have written memories of him that they left behind, as well as interviews about him from the 1980s and 90s. We also spoke to members of Turing's family before making the film, so that we could hear their memories as well. I think for the whole team, one of our proudest moments has been screening the film for the Turing family, and receiving their enthusiastic support. One of his nieces said that watching the film was like seeing her uncle alive again. For all of us, that felt like the only review that really mattered.

What is it like to write a screenplay set in a time period where women and gay people were heavily discriminated against?

Doing research on the history of discrimination against gay men and woman was both horrifying and fascinating. One of the things I wanted to show in the film was that discrimination and prejudice were not simply the result of a few bad apples, but rather an institutionalized system of oppression. In the character of "Detective Nock", we see a man who is fundamentally decent, and who is not personally a homophobe, but who still ends up being principally responsible for Turing's arrest because he is a part of an institution that systematically discriminates against gay men. I will also note that while we've come a long way as a society since 1950, we still live in a time when gay men and women are discriminated against all over the world. It is still legal to fire someone from a job because of their sexual orientation in 29 states in America. In India, gay sex was criminalized last year. That means that 1.2 billion people are living under a system of homophobic laws nearly identical to the ones that existed in Alan Turing's time. These are not issues that have gone away, and just as The Imitation Game can serve as a reminder of the history of discrimination, it hopefully can also serve as a reminder that such persecution is still very much with us.

Graham Moore is a New York Times bestselling novelist and Academy Award winning screenwriter. His screenplay for The Imitation Game was nominated for a BAFTA, a Golden Globe, a WGA award, and an Oscar, after topping the Black List in 2012. The film, which was directed by Morten Tyldum and stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, was released by The Weinstein Company in November 2014, won the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival, and received 8 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture.

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