6 Brilliant Portrayals of Editors on Film
March 6, 2013
Daniel Craig in ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’/Image © Columbia Tristar
Behind every good story is a good editor. Whether it be for a book, a newspaper, or a magazine, editors are the gatekeepers of information. They are often the only thing separating the public from misinformation. So naturally, the position requires a keen eye, a commitment to accuracy, and a good moral compass. Here are six actors and and actresses who brilliantly captured the position.
Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist in “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” (2011)
As both an editor and a writer for the magazine Millennium, the character of Mikael Blomkvist is made compelling by his drive to correct his previous mistakes, in both his professional and personal lives. Having been convicted of libel, his journalistic integrity hangs in the balance. Complicating things further is his occasional affair with fellow editor Erika Berger, a relationships that ruined his marriage. Blomkvist is a great example of how past transgressions can sometimes drive editors to be better journalists. The role was originally played by Michael Nyqvist in the Swedish version of the movie before David Fincher remade the movie in the States and cast Daniel Craig to hunkify things up a bit.
Memorable quotes: “The last time I reported on something without being absolutely sure, I lost my life savings.
Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada” (2006)
Just about everyone who has ever been a lowly assistant has horror stories of bosses like Miranda Priestly. Priestly, played by Meryl Streep, is the editor-in-chief of Runway Magazine. She is a woman who strikes fear in the hearts of aspiring fashion writers and just about everyone in her path. Priestly is not only impossible to please but also seems to take pleasure in deriding personal fashion choices. As if anyone would expect anything less, Streep earned an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of the icy editrix, who is believed to be based on Vogue’s Anna Wintour.
Memorable quote: “So you don’t read Runway, before today you had never heard of me, and you have no style or sense of fashion …. No no, that wasn’t a question.”
Peter Sarsgaard as Chuck Lane, “Shattered Glass” (2003)
“Shattered Glass” depicts the true story of Stephen Glass, a young, up-and-coming reporter at The New Republic who made headlines when it was revealed that he fabricated dozens of stories for the magazine. By all accounts, Hayden Christensen, who played Glass, is meant to be the star of the film, with his face front and center on the movie poster. But Peter Sarsgaard’s portrayal of his stoic editor, Chuck Lane, is so compelling that it earned him a Golden Globe nomination. As a new editor, Lane takes on the unenviable task of exposing the well-liked Glass, making himself unpopular among his staff in the process. Lane sticks to his journalistic principles, asking the difficult questions, and through him, the audience sees Glass’ lies unravel.
Memorable quote: “Every competitor we ever took a shot at, they’re gonna pounce and they should. He handed us fiction after fiction and we printed them all as fact just because we found him entertaining. It’s indefensible.”
J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson in “Spider-man” (2002)
If you’ve ever rolled your eyes at the scandalous and outrageous headlines on the covers of tabloid newspapers, you might have wondered what kind of person gets paid to write that trash. J. Jonah Jameson is that person. Brilliantly brought to life by J.K. Simmons, Jameson is the longtime Daily Bugle editor and decider of Spider-man’s public image. The no-nonsense, short-fused muckraker lives to coin phrases and craft selling headlines, journalistic accuracy be damned. He is the kind of editor who is so smug with his own self-satisfaction that his office is decorated with framed front pages featuring his own brilliant creations.
Memorable quote: “He wants to be famous? I’ll make him infamous!”
John Mahoney as the news editor in “The Hudsucker Proxy” (1994)
John Mahoney, who most people know as the old guy who sits in the La-Z-Boy on “Frasier,” has a part in the Coen brothers’ severely underrated movie, “The Hudsucker Proxy,” as the editor of the Manhattan Argus – though his screen time is criminally short. In fact, his character isn’t even given a name. He’s simply the chief news editor, and a damn good one at that. The epic chewing out he gives his staff is the stuff of newsroom legend, and is an homage to the fast-talking, slang-wielding brand of delivery of 1930s cinema.
Memorable quote: “Facts, figures, charts! They never sold a newspaper! I read this morning’s edition of the Argus and let me tell you something: I’d wrap a fish in it! I’d use it as kindling! Hell, I’d even train my poodle on it if he wasn’t a French poodle and more partial to the pages of Paris Soir, but I sure wouldn’t shell out a hard-earned nickel to read the dadblamed thing!”
Jason Robards as Ben Bradlee in “All the President’s Men” (1976)
In 1973, Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee faced arguably the most difficult decision in the history of American journalism: running a story that, if false, would cost him his newspaper and his career; but if true, would sink an American presidency. Naturally, Bradlee was relentless in demanding sources from his two young reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Bradlee of course ended up running the story and the rest is history. In “All the President’s Men,” Jason Robards absolutely nails the subtle nuances of Bradlee’s personal charm as well as his hard-nosed but supportive approach to journalism.
Memorable quote: “Nothing’s riding on this except the first amendment of the Constitution, freedom of the press, and maybe the future of the country.”
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