The set of an Aaron Sorkin movie is a place where weighty dialogue is exchanged like rounds of ammunition; a forum for the right and good to do linguistic battles with the dishonourable before throwing a parting bit into the air like a firecracker. It is this sacred image of a Sorkin set which makes the idea of a fart machine rippling through the air as protagonist stares down antagonist one of the best revelations of this cursed year.
In a new interview with Vulture, Jeremy Strong, who plays the Youth International Party co-founder, and political insurgent Jerry Rubin, has revealed that he created a "healthy tension" on the set of The Trial of the Chicago 7 in order to mimic the dynamic between the establishment and the counter-culture which the film portrays.
Strong, who last month won an Emmy for his portrayal of Kendall Roy in Succession, discussed the props he used to get into character including a fart machine he brought to set "to fuck with people".
"We’re in the courtroom for many, many, many months. It was a long trial, and trials are boring, and [the defendants] found ways to amuse themselves." Strong said. "And this, for me, was one of the ways I found to amuse myself — and to also get under the skin of Judge Hoffman, who to Jerry [Rubin] and Abbie [Hoffman] and Bobby [Seale] and the rest of the men represented everything that was despicable and odious and bigoted and authoritarian in American government."
Strong divulged that he would plant the fart machine in the judge's dais and then set it off, sometimes before a close-up scene. "It would really piss him off," he said. "His face turned red. Those are the takes we used in the film. It was great — there was real, palpable tension in the room when that happened. I got in trouble sometimes with Aaron and the producers, but I kind of felt like … if I’m Jerry Rubin, and I’m not in contempt of some court, then I’m not doing my job."
When asked what getting into trouble with Aaron Sorkin is like, Strong said that the director would give him license to do what he needed, although sometimes sent in the producer to give him a "dressing down".
"I think you have to find a way to bring some jazz or even some kind of punk rock to that strict classical structure and set it on fire a little bit," he said in staunch defence of the fart machine.
Netflix, our kingdom for those fart scenes to erupt onto our screens someday.
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