Screenplay Security: Gary Oldman and Mark Strong on the Extreme Measures Studios Go Through To Keep Them Under Wraps

Losing the script of a film you’re working on is bad enough.  But losing a script to one of the most anticipated sequels of all time, which also happens to be directed by one of the most tight-lipped filmmakers Christopher Nolan?  That’s a potential for disaster that could make a lot of very powerful people very disappointed in you.

But that’s a disaster that Gary Oldman almost faced when he thought he misplaced the script to The Dark Knight Rises, in which he stars as Batman’s ally Commissioner Gordon for a third time.

He tells the BBC, “I was in a panic for 20 minutes.  I thought, ‘where the hell have I put it?'”  Since hardly anyone had access to the script, Oldman’s script was personalized.  He adds, “It had my name on it.  They would have killed me.”

Security surrounding the script has gone to extreme measures, with Oldman pointing out, “When he [Nolan] gives the script out, it doesn’t have the ending. Characters sometimes change, or their names change. And you have to go to the studio to read it.”

The script was safely in Oldman’s hotel room, but when he stashed it away he wasn’t paying attention and couldn’t remember where he had put it.  He explains, “I’d gone out for dinner and I had put it in the room between the mattress and the bed, because I couldn’t scrunch it into the safe.  I was half-thinking about something else and shoved it there.”

But Oldman isn’t the only actor who has to deal with extreme script security.

Mark Strong stars in the upcoming film about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden Zero Dark Thirty, another anticipated film.  Strong reveals that even though the film isn’t a sequel in a popular franchise, the producers still wanted the script to be “as secret as possible.”

While unlike Oldman, Strong had access to an electronic copy of the script it came with extraordinary security measures.  He says, “You have to apply to read it on your computer.  If it detects that you haven’t read it for a couple of days, it disappears off the computer.  When you are reading it, if it detects after five minutes that you haven’t turned the page, the text goes blurry.”

The idea here is that script leaks could vastly hurt a film’s performance, and in the internet era when leaks can spread across the globe in minutes, well, extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.  After all, if a trailer or set photos leak that only reveals part of the film.  But if an actor leaves his or her script for a hotly-anticipated film in a taxi cab?  Time to start looking for a new career, probably.

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