LOS ANGELES – The last four years have been a whirlwind for screenwriter Graham Moore. After seizing the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tell the story of a childhood hero, his script based on Alan Turing's life – “The Imitation Game” – lit up the industry, landing at the top of The Black List (an annual compendium of hot unpublished screenplays). He was given the rare opportunity as a writer to see production all the way through as an Executive Producer, moving with the project in and out of the studio system, and in the mountains of Colorado last week, he witnessed the film catch fire after finally premiering at the Telluride Film Festival.
Now the 32-year-old finds himself working alongside directors like Michael Mann and Marc Forster, living the dream after having the best possible alignment of stars on his first major industry experience. With “The Imitation Game” set for another big coming out at the Toronto International Film Festival next week, I carved out some time to chat with Moore in between plane rides as he begins to steel himself for the season ahead. Because let's face it, a well-received historical biopic fronted by awards maven Harvey Weinstein is sure to make for a marathon this time of year.
(Note: There are casual beats in the conversation that could be considered SPOILERS regarding the fate of the film's subject, Alan Turing. Given that this is a biographical film built on non-fiction, I've left those notes throughout. Anyone with a cursory, Wikipedia-level knowledge of Alan Turing's life will do just well with them. Otherwise, tread lightly.)
“The Imitation Game” hits theaters Nov. 21.
HitFix: It's too bad you left Telluride so early because you didn't get to see that “The Imitation Game” ended up being pretty much the hit of the festival.
Graham Moore: Oh, I'm so glad to hear you say that. It sounds like it went well. It feels like this precious little thing that we've been keeping to ourselves and slowly crafting over four years now. And so to actually sort of put it out there, it's a very nerve-racking thing.
When did you first see a cut of it? How long has it been ready to go?
I think we only picture locked six or eight weeks ago. But I first started seeing cuts in January and we wrapped in November. Morten [Tyldum, the director] and Billy [Goldenberg], the editor, they had about a month or so on their own, then they sort of brought me in to start helping out. And that was great. My whole experience with Morten in general is that he's been so inclusive and so generous about having me be part of the process the whole time, even through editorial.