×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Q&A: ‘Spotlight’ Screenwriter Josh Singer Discusses Papal Commission

Josh Singer earned his first Oscar nomination for original screenplay (with director Tom McCarthy) of “Spotlight.” The pair spent countless hours of research to craft the story of the Boston Globe journalists who investigated the cover-up of child sex abuse within the Catholic church. Singer, who is also favored to win the WGA Award this weekend, spoke to Variety at this week’s Oscar luncheon about the worldwide effect their film is having.

How did you find out about the Oscar nominations?
I won’t lie, my wife and I got up early. I was obviously nervous about screenwriting but wanted to see how we would do across the board. I was thinking if we got five it would be a pretty good morning. And we got six.

You share writing with Tom McCarthy, but he didn’t intend on being a co-writer at first?
Right, originally Tom wasn’t going to be a co-writer and we started going to Boston together for research. I love collaborating. Tom’s a great writer and a great guy so I’ll always enjoy spending time with him. Three or four months in he said, “Do you have any interest in writing this with me?” And I said, “We basically already are!”

The film is being seen everywhere; it screened last week for a Vatican commission on clerical sex abuse.
There’s been some interesting developments there. Pope Francis had created this commission in 2014, the Papal Commission for the Protection of Minors. He created it in 2014 and put two survivors on the commission; Peter Saunders is one of them. They screened our film at the top of the session on Thursday, which was terrific. Less terrific is that Peter Saunders has been pushed out of the commission because he was agitating for too much change. I think he was pushing the Pope to do more. One can read this several different ways but I have a real concern that this commission is a bit of a straw dog — it’s not actually affecting change, it’s just there for show. I think we all need to bring more pressure on the church to do more because I think they have not done nearly enough to protect children.

Did they give a reason for pushing him out?
They said he was perhaps more comfortable as an advocate as opposed to an adviser. And I understand it’s an advisory committee. But things he was advocating are things we all should want. The Pope announced there was going to be this tribunal to hold bishops accountable and yet hasn’t actually created the tribunal. Peter Saunders asked why. The Pope elevated a bishop in Chile and there are allegations he was involved in enabling and actually participating in a child abuse scandal involving a priest named Karadima. And the Pope has made some not-so-great comments about this when people have protested, calling people leftist and dumb. Peter Saunders asked why hasn’t he said more and why has this bishop been allowed to maintain this position? These are both good questions, I think. I was deeply disheartened to see Saunders pushed off that commission. If we don’t have our survivors speaking for other survivors and children, I think that’s a problem.

That’s disappointing, as I feel this Pope has done some good things.
I love what the Pope’s done, what he’s said about climate change and he’s been wonderful on so many issues. But this is a huge issue and it’s one that is actually within his power. It’s somewhat unfathomable to me why he isn’t taking more action here. This is something he actually has control over.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • So Long, My Son directed by

    Wang Xiaoshuai's 'So Long, My Son' Earns Six APSA Nominations

    Chinese drama, “So Long, My Son,” was nominated in six categories for this year’s Asia Pacific Screen Awards. The unprecedented haul makes it a clear favorite. The Wang Xiaoshuai-directed drama about separation, secrets, a lifetime of regret, and the consequences of China’s one child policy, had its premiere in February at the Berlin festival. There [...]

  • Alan Rickman

    Film News Roundup: 'Galaxy Quest' Documentary Set for Release

    In today’s film news roundup, rescue drama “Not Without Hope” is back in development, a “Galaxy Quest” documentary is set for release, “The Two Popes” wins another award, and Ella Joyce gets cast. PROJECT REVIVED U.K.-based financing-production outfit Goldfinch has bought feature film rights to Nick Schuyler’s “Not Without Hope” and signed “The Fog” director [...]

  • Ryan Reynolds John Krasinkski

    Ryan Reynolds, John Krasinski in Talks for 'Imaginary Friends' Movie

    Ryan Reynolds and John Krasinski are in talks to board the fantasy comedy “Imaginary Friends” at Paramount Studios. Paramount recently won the bidding for the property over Lionsgate and Sony. Krasinski will write, direct,  produce and star while Reynolds will co-star if the deals go through. The story centers on a man who can see [...]

  • Willem Dafoe attends the "Motherless Brooklyn"

    Willem Dafoe Joins Guillermo Del Toro's 'Nightmare Alley'

    Willem Dafoe has closed a deal to join Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation of “Nightmare Alley.” Collider had first reported that Dafoe was being considered for a role in the film, but sources now say the “Lighthouse” star has closed a deal to join the cast. The “At [...]

  • 'To the Ends of the Earth'

    Busan Film Review: 'To the Ends of the Earth'

    “To the Ends of the Earth,” the story of a young Japanese journalist’s experiences in Uzbekistan filming a report for a Japanese TV travel show, was originally commissioned to celebrate 25 years of cordial diplomatic relations between director Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s hyper-developed island homeland and the less affluent, landlocked Central Asian nation. As such we might [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content