Studio: Lions Gate (released Oct. 31)
Source material: Buzz Bissinger’s article in Vanity Fair, September 1998
Storyline: Fact-based story about New Republic writer Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen), who fabricates several stories for the magazine until a new editor, Charles Lane (Peter Sarsgaard), is suspicious and determined to discover the truth.
About the script: In a remarkably concise and completely factual screenplay, debuting writer-director Billy Ray examines how and why a promising young writer would make up stories for an important national magazine — and almost get away with it. The drama is suspenseful and riveting. “The movie tried to accomplish a lot of things” Ray says. “It’s about integrity, telling the truth, overcoming the cult of personality, and also the legacy of Woodward and Bernstein and what’s happened to it.
“The issue for me was, how is it possible a guy could be caught making up articles and the people who work (at that office) would rally to his defense? And so every event we put in the movie had to be events that told that story.”
Biggest challenge: “To make the first half of the movie about one character and the second half about someone else. This movie could not have Stephen Glass as its protagonist all the way through — it would be too frustrating to watch. About halfway through, the protagonist had to become Chuck Lane. That’s a violation of every screenwriting rule I ever heard.”
Breakthrough idea: “The idea of Glass speaking at his high school. We had cut the movie together and screened it several times for ourselves and Lions Gate. I just didn’t think the movie was good enough. I thought by shooting the additional material it would take it up another notch. That high school material allowed us to restructure the entire movie.”
Favorite scene: Michael Kelly (Hank Azaria) has just been fired and Lane has been hired to replace him and they pass each other in a doorway, each carrying their respective cardboard boxes. “I just think Hank and Peter are so good in that moment and Hayden’s reaction to them is so good. It’s such a dialogue-free moment.”
Lines we love: Chuck Lane on the phone to the editor of Forbes magazine: “Can we have a talk here entirely off the record and almost human being to human being?”
Recognition to date: Four Independent Spirit Award nominations, including feature and screenplay; supporting actor for Sarsgaard, Boston Society of Film Critics
Writer’s bio: “Shattered Glass” is Ray’s directing debut. In addition to this film, he has co-written “Hart’s War” and “Volcano.” He wrote the TNT film “Legalese” and upcoming Paramount release “Suspect Zero.”