What lurks in the minds of Bush-ites? At the premiere of Oliver Stone’s W. earlier this week, we asked the cast to put their characters on the couch. What did we find? As Rosie Perez told us, “Therapy would have cured everything.”
Elizabeth Banks on Laura Bush:
Diagnosis: Blind love. Delusion. Need to dominate.
We know Laura Bush is a librarian who once voted for LBJ. So how’d she end up with this guy? Banks’s take: She just plain liked him. Bizarre, we know. “We did our best to portray them in a solid, supportive union, which Josh and I believe they’re in,” she said. “They’re very yin and yang. He makes her laugh and she classes him up. She’s a very educated woman who married somebody who made her laugh. They’re definitely not equals. She wears the pants. As all women do.”
James Cromwell on George H.W. Bush:
Diagnosis: Child neglect. Repressed emotions. Thirst for power.
Cromwell says H.W. was an absent father because his father was an absent father. “Prescott also was not around. He was an alcoholic. The family lied about his alcoholism to themselves and the rest of the world. It sort of shut H. Walker Bush down.” As a result, says Cromwell, “This is somebody who weeps before the Florida legislature about an election that his son lost the last time and is unable to finish because he doesn’t know what to do with emotion. H. Walker Bush weeps in interviews but never communicates with his son. It’s always through his mother. He hands him notes rather than talking to him directly because he really had an investment in Jeb, the younger son. Jeb was the one to carry on the dynasty because Jeb was the more rational one. The son, W., has been out of control since he was a boy and it never works between them.”
Thandie Newton on Condoleeza Rice
Diagnosis: Depression. Codependency. Daddy issues.
Newton thinks Rice became so entrenched in the administration because of the timing of her appointment. “Her father died just before she became National Security Adviser,” says Newton. “So there’s a transference from the end of one family to the beginning of another.” To cope, says Newton, Rice took on George W. Bush as her “prize student. It was a real sense of her steering him, but just steering him where he wants to go, giving him the information and knowledge about foreign relations and global politics to go where he wants to go.” Newton doesn’t see Rice as an active player, but rather, she says, “she was like his interpreter in many ways. She was able to interpret what he wanted and how he wanted to operate. And by giving him knowledge, she was really able to facilitate how he wanted to rule as president.”
Richard Dreyfuss on Dick Cheney
Diagnosis: Narcissistic Personality Disorder. God complex.
Cheney always looks like he’s passing a kidney stone in press conferences. Is he uptight? No, says Dreyfuss. “I think he has no affect. I think he’s so confident that he has no doubt. He makes a statement and he doesn’t wait around to persuade you.” How would Dreyfuss tutor other actors in portraying Cheney? “I’d say, ‘Listen to him not persuade you.’ He believes what he says. He says it. And if you don’t believe it, that’s your problem.”
Josh Brolin on W.
Diagnosis: Unfettered ambition.
We suspect if we’d gotten more than two seconds with Brolin on the red carpet we could have come up with a better diagnosis, but here goes, “I appreciated his conviction and his steel will a lot. Although I didn’t appreciate his inability to reassess it. But I did appreciate his ability to change in his forties.”
Oliver Stone on W.
Diagnosis: Daddy issues. Hubris. God complex.
Stone sees W. as so intellectually disinterested he’d never be able to answer the question, “How’d you screw up so bad?” “It’s just that he’s so intellectually disinterested. You could say to most people, ‘What was it like to meet this world leader?’ But he personalizes everything so much that it’s not that interesting anymore. I’ve exhausted myself on George Bush.”
Oliver Stone on Oliver Stone
Diagnosis: Hubris. Ambition. Daddy issues.
Is this movie about Stone? “That’s not fair,” he says. “Okay, a little bit. I have a little Bush in me. Of course I do. I think everyone does. It’s the hubris and the arrogance, and I think you forget things. I think we all make mistakes, but at least I think I have the ability to admit some of them.”