Damian Lewis to play Rob Ford in new film, but casting choice for reporter raising eyebrows
Reporter Robyn Doolittle expresses dismay about film 'rewriting' fact that female reporter broke key stories
News that Damian Lewis, the star of Billions and Homeland, is set to portray the late Toronto mayor Rob Ford in a film called Run This Town, made headlines Tuesday, but that isn't the only casting choice raising eyebrows.
Robyn Doolittle, who now works at the Globe and Mail, was the female reporter behind many of the biggest headlines about the former mayor, from his substance abuse to the crack-cocaine scandal that made him notorious.
She is sounding off about the film because it has a male reporter chasing those stories.
American Ben Platt, the Tony Award-winning star of Dear Evan Hansen, plays a bumbling newsroom intern who wants to break the story on the Ford crack-smoking scandal — but is several steps behind other reporters.
Doolittle who worked alongside investigative reporter Kevin Donovan at the Toronto Star on the Ford story and penned a bestseller about Ford called Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story, took to Twitter Tuesday to express her dismay.
I'm glad they're rewriting the fact that it was a female reporter who investigated Rob Ford. Why have a woman be a lead character when a man could do it? Ammaright? <a href="https://t.co/Nx3holhuZW">https://t.co/Nx3holhuZW</a>—@robyndoolittle
But the production company behind the film says while the movie is set against the backdrop of Ford's mayoral term, it isn't a biopic.
Tollman says he wanted to create "a sympathetic portrait" of Ford and his tumultuous time in office before he died in 2016.
The film, which is currently being shot in Toronto and has no release date, also features Canadian actors Nina Dobrev, Mena Massoud and Scott Speedman.
'This isn't the Rob Ford story,' director says
He says while many assumed the film would focus on Ford and some of the real reporters who covered the controversial mayor, "this is an imagined story representing people that I know that have been trying to make their way in life in the footsteps of people who are much better at their jobs."
While he expects there may be other films about Ford in various stages of development, Tollman says he wasn't worried about competing with other scripts.
"This isn't the Rob Ford story," he says.
"And I didn't want to portray Rob in a way that people already imagined him or in ways he's already been portrayed in the media ... I think Rob isn't just a caricature, he's a person and he's a human, he had two children and a wife and a family, and he cared very deeply about the city he was the mayor of. And this was a guy with demons.
"I wanted to show a side of him that people forget about."
No attempt to 'co-opt' Doolittle's story, says actor
Platt tweeted on Tuesday about the character he is playing — an "entitled, incapable entry-level reporter."
To reiterate, the film is a completely fictional drama with several storylines exploring the millennial generation & their involvement in politics & journalism, the Rob Ford scandal serves as the platform. There is no attempt to portray or co-opt your story/accomplishments.—@BenSPLATT
The explanation was in response to the tweet by Doolittle, who accused the filmmakers of "rewriting the fact that it was a female reporter who investigated Rob Ford."
"The film is a completely fictional drama," Platt's tweet reply to Doolittle reads. "There is no attempt to portray or co-opt your story/accomplishments."
With files from CBC News