‘Inaccurate but Truthful’: Q&A with Screenwriter Peter Morgan

Julia Lajta-Novak, Werner Huber


In the spring of 2014, the University of Vienna in cooperation with the Ludwig Boltzmann institute for the history and Theory of Biography in Vienna organised an interdisciplinary lecture series “The Many faces of Biography”. This lecture series brought together scholars and practitioners of various historical and recent biographical forms, focusing on the specificities and challenges posed by different biographical media. One of them was peter Morgan, a major name in contemporary biographical film-making (and playwriting), noted for his characteristic dual-structure approach to writing lives for the screen. During one of the sessions of the lecture series he was interviewed by Julia Novak and Werner Huber about some of his most famous work, such as The Deal (2003), The Queen (2006), Frost/Nixon (2008), The Other Boleyn Girl (2008), and Rush (2013). in this Q&A he shed light on the principles guiding the screenwriter-biographer’s work, his conflicting responsibilities towards biographee and audience, and the biopic’s potential to impact on the fame and after-fame of historical and contemporary celebrities.

This article was submitted to the European Journal of Life Writing on  Februay 28th 2015 and published on July 6th 2015.

A second version of this article was uplaoded, with one minor alteration, on 12 August 215.


Peter Morgan, biopic, filmic biography, celebrity, Rush, The Deal, The Queen, Frost/Nixon

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Belén Vidal, “Introduction: The Biopic and its Critical Contexts,” The Biopic in Contemporary Film Culture, ed. Tom Brown and Belén Vidal (new York: routledge, 2014), pp. 1–32.

Hattenstone, Simon. “Inside the Minds of the Mighty.” The Guardian 13 Dec 2008. 26 Mar 2015. .

Frost/Nixon. Dir. Ron Howard. Universal Pictures, 2008; The Other Boleyn Girl. Dir. Justin Chadwick. BBC films, 2008; The Deal. Dir. Stephen Frears. Granada Television, 2003;

The Queen. Dir. Stephen Frears. Granada Productions, 2006; The Special Relationship. Dir. Richard Loncraine. Rainmark Films, 2010; Rush. Dir. Ron Howard. Cross Creek Pictures,

Belén Vidal, “Morgan/Sheen: The Compressed Frame of Impersonation,” The Biopic in Contemporary Film Culture, ed. Tom Brown and Belén Vidal (New York: Routledge, 2014), pp. 140–158.

The Damned United. Dir. Tom Hooper. BBC Films, 2009.

Longford. Dir. Tom Hooper. Granada Productions, 2006.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5463/ejlw.4.165


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