Starring: Frank Langella, Michael Sheen
Directed by: Ron Howard
Release date: December 5
If you're Tina Fey playing Sarah Palin, physical resemblance comes naturally. But if you're Frank Langella playing Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon, how do you embody a man you don't really look like and who was five inches shorter? According to Langella, you forgo the fake nose and select a wig that just suggests the subject's hairline. ''It was an interesting challenge not to be exact,'' says Langella. ''What would be the point? That's not creating an essence.''
Evoke the truth, but don't slavishly reproduce the minutiae of history: That was the strategy behind every aspect of this heavily researched but intermittently fictionalized account of talk-show host David Frost's revelatory TV interviews with Nixon in 1977. (Frost is played by Sheen, best known as Tony Blair in The Queen.) Adapted by Peter Morgan The Queen's Oscar-nominated screenwriter from his own acclaimed stage play, the movie consciously evokes the atmosphere of a gladiatorial contest, with handheld, whip-pan camera work and fast cutting. ''I always wanted the camera operators to be exploring, reacting, finding things...sort of a boxing-match aesthetic,'' says Howard. ''It's supposed to be a thinking man's Rocky.''