Game Change Director Says McCain Staff Acted Out Palin’s "Mini-Meltdowns" for Him

By
Jay Roach. Photo: Stephen Lovekin/2012 Getty Images

Sarah Palin denies that she became catatonic during campaign prep sessions for her infamous 2008 interview with Katie Couric and then again before a debate with Senator Joe Biden. But at a premiere party last evening at the Four Seasons for his new HBO film Game Change, director Jay Roach told Daily Intel that he went beyond the John Heilemann/Mark Halperin book on which the movie is based to source this key scene. "We checked with a lot of people who were in the room, and we were like, 'Really? She just shut down? I know you're saying mini-meltdown, or shut down, but people throw the phrase around. What does it mean?'"

Roach explained the question was motivated by more than just fact-checking — he needed to know how to direct Julianne Moore to perform those scenes. "So they said, 'I'll act it out for you,'" Roach said. "And they would sit, stare at the floor, not respond, you know, eyes at half-mast. And I was so shocked."

As to Palin's version of events, Roach said he understands "why a politician wouldn't want a weaker moment to come out," but he believes it makes her "more human." "She was in such a predicament," he said. "Her interviews had gone terribly, she didn't have time to prepare, and people she no longer trusted were in charge of the preparation. Her kids were in all that turmoil, and her son was shipping off to Iraq." To have to battle Biden, "a guy who's been debating for decades and knows everything about foreign policy," was enough to make anyone collapse, the director said. "I would have had to be scraped off the floor before facing that."

Now that Roach has tackled the election campaigns of 2000 (in Recount) and 2008, does he see a potential movie taking shape this time around? "I don't see it yet!" he said. "What's the 2012 version? I don't know. But I've been enjoying the SNL [satires] — Jason Sudeikis as Romney!"