Small things "Frost/Nixon" could do without

Mon Dec 1, 2008 10:23am EST
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By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sir David Frost says a new film about his historical interview with former U.S. President Richard Nixon is better than the stage play it is based on, but "there are one or two small bits it could do without."

Director Ron Howard's "Frost/Nixon" is based on Peter Morgan's Tony Award-winning play of the same name and stars the same actors who played the characters on stage in London and New York -- Michael Sheen (Frost) and Frank Langella (Nixon).

Morgan also wrote the screenplay for the film, which debuts in major U.S. cities on December 5 and elsewhere across the United States and the world in coming months.

"There is about 10 percent fiction," Frost, 69, who now hosts a show on the Al Jazeera English network, told Reuters in a recent interview. "It's just minor things in the fiction that really can be summed up as the things that Peter was doing to try and build me up as an underdog."

"To build up the ending so he left out all the things I'd done by the time of the Nixon interviews -- three prime ministers, three ex-presidents, all sorts of stuff," he said.

Frost's 1977 interview, three years after Nixon was forced to resign over the Watergate scandal, gripped viewers around the world as the former president admitted for the first time he had made mistakes and let the American people down.

Critics at the time had scoffed at whether the British TV personality could hold is own against former lawyer Nixon.

Howard told Reuters that Morgan, nominated for an Oscar for writing 2006's "The Queen," accentuated parts of Frost's character to show why people may have doubted his abilities.   Continued...

<p>Michael Sheen as David Frost in a scene from Ron Howard's "Frost/Nixon". REUTERS/Universal Pictures/Handout</p>