by Lash

Tom Hanks. Meryl Streep. Steven Spielberg.

These three names are enough for any movie buff to want to watch the movie they’re in, regardless of the nature of the story.

The cherry on top here is that the dream team has assembled to tell the gripping true story of the journalists from both The Washington Post and The New York Times, who published classified documents on confidential information of the United States government’s involvement in the Vietnam War under the Truman administration. Called the Pentagon Papers, the revelation rocked the country in the 1970s. At the centre of this controversial release is Katherine Graham (Streep), who owns The Washington Post during this period of the pursuit of truth and justice.

Already a front-runner in the award race (nominated for six Golden Globes and eight Critics’ Choice Movie Awards), and generating Oscar buzz, The Post is supported by a strong group of secondary cast (including Sarah Paulson from Carol, Bob Odenkirk from Breaking Bad and Bradley Whitford from Get Out) that brings the compelling story to life. Here’re 8 things you should know before catching The Post at the theatres.

1. No Need for Rehearsals

Steven Spielberg doesn’t do rehearsals. A normal practice for many directors, Spielberg isn’t a fan of running through the scene before actually filming. While Tom Hanks is well acquainted with the procedure, Streep isn’t. In fact, she was flabbergasted upon learning the fact. But it turns out the marvellous Ms Streep didn’t need any dry runs, Spielberg was reportedly so impressed with her performance that he couldn’t keep from complimenting her character transformation.

2. Those Ain’t Props

Keep your eyes peeled. In the scenes that feature the Pentagon Papers, the actual documents by Daniel Ellsberg - the analyst who documented the US military movements in Vietnam - were used, instead of props.

3. Sorry, It’s Banned

Just days before its release in Lebanon, The Post was banned from being screened in the country. Lebanon has a “boycott Israel” list, and one of Spielberg’s films, the Oscar-winning Holocaust movie Schindler’s List (1993) had shots filmed in Jerusalem. With that association, The Post’s premiere in the country was unceremoniously banned.

4. Black-listed

The script for The Post was penned by unknown first-time screen-writer Liz Hannah and landed on the Black List website. It was then picked up by famed producer Amy Pascal (Spiderman: Homecoming, Molly’s Game).

Extended Reading: Getting on the Black List

5. Break-neck Pace

Under normal circumstances, a movie involving such mega-stars with such a compelling story would take years to materialise. But from start to finish, The Post took less than a year. Originally written by Hannah at the tail-end of 2016, the story had strong parallels with the Presidential race between Hilary Clinton and Donal Trump. Spielberg saw that symmetry when he read the script in February last year, and decided to make the movie. He quickly got Hanks and Streep on board, hire Josh Singer (who won an Oscar for Spotlight) to refine the script and began production in May 2017.

6. Exclusive White House Screening

Interestingly, while US President Donald Trump has called Streep “one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood” last year, his team had requested for the film to be screened at the White House and Camp David (an annual retreat for US Presidents).

7. Dedicated to Nora Ephron

Ephron was a prolific writer, most noted for her works on romantic films such as When Harry Met Sally (1989), Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and You’ve Got Mail (1998). Back in the 70s, she had applied to be a reporter but was instead offered jobs like researcher, copygirl or secretary. The movie, which was about a dominant female character in the reporting world making a difference, was an ode to the late Ephron’s youthful journalistic dream.

8. Not Once or Twice, But Five Times

There are some actors that directors prefer to work with and vice versa, and it’s clear Hanks is a favourite of Spielberg’s. The Post marks the pair’s fifth collaboration. Their previous works were Saving Private Ryan (1998), Catch Me If You Can (2002), The Terminal (2004), and Bridge of Spies (2015).

Catch Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks talk about the relevance of The Post, 40 years on: