Hero? Spy? Vigilante? Villain? It’s still impossible to pinpoint exactly what the consensus is on Edward Snowden, but Oliver Stone is confident that the NSA leaker is a compelling enough subject to be the center of a biopic. The former CIA systems administrator turned Defense Intelligence Agency counterintelligence trainer turned National Intelligence Agency pot-stirrer very well may have changed the world — or at least the way we feel about complaining about the government in Facebook messages — when he publicized thousands of classified documents from the United States government; it was the biggest information dump since the Pentagon Papers in 1971.
Naturally, his actions didn’t sit quite right with U.S. officials, meaning Snowden is currently hanging out somewhere in Russia after several failed attempts at finding asylum. His story’s got it all — intrigue, intelligence, dramatics, a fight and flight to save his freedom because he believed he was letting the American public have theirs — and now Stone and his producing partner Moritz Borman have obtained the rights to a book, “The Snowden Files: The Inside Look at the World’s Most Wanted Man,” that may help them understand a little bit more of what he was attempting to do. After all, he’s a little indisposed at the moment.
The book was written by Guardian journalist Luke Harding, who received a Pulitzer Prize for his work reporting on Snowden’s case; he’ll work to executive produce and consult on the story with other Guardian journalists the film that Stone is writing and directing.
If you’re a connoisseur of whistleblower movies or just endured any part of last year’s The Fifth Estate (we got out of that endless computer room together, buddy), you can probably agree that the involvement of journalists who have firsthand experience with the case is great news. Harding undoubtedly has stories to share that may not have even made it into the book, and he’ll know better than anyone how to get into the head of Snowden.
It all just depends on if the people are still intrigued by this prospect. The Fifth Estate, the Bill Condon-directed film starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Wikileaks messiah Julian Assange, was expected to be a radical portrait of the maniac who dumped information all over the world; instead, it was a bonafide flop that barely cleared $8M worldwide. Ouch. You can only yell in a strained Australian accent at adorable Daniel Brühl so many times about changing the world without anything actually happening in the movie before things start to get boring. For a Snowden film not to befall the same fate, Stone and his consultants have to tread a careful line between him becoming sensationalistic and an outright hero. Condon’s Assange was pretty much a Disney villain who almost rubbed his hands together maniacally with every information dump — is Snowden the white knight?