New biographical film She Said stars Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan, and tells the story of how New York Times reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor broke the story regarding the decades of sexual abuse accusations against Harvey Weinstein.


Their report, which helped to ignite the #MeToo movement, is now well-known around the world, but She Said details just how it came to be researched and eventually published.

The film's director, Maria Shrader, recently spoke exclusively with about the new film, and explained the ins and outs of how her team kept the film accurate and truthful to the New York Times reporter's experiences.

Read on for everything you need to know about the true story behind the film She Said.

What source material was the film based on?

The cast of She Said
The cast of She Said. Universal Studios

The film is based on the 2019 book She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement, written by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, the two New York Times investigative reporters who broke the Harvey Weinstein story.

The film was actually developed alongside the book, with screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz starting to write the script on the basis of initial conversations with Kantor and Twohey. She was then sent chapters and drafts of the book as the process went along.

Lenkiewicz has said of the writing process: "I started to weave the book’s detail and their perspective into the screenplay. I included some verbatim dialogue. The bravery and resilience of the survivors was key to the script, as was the journalists’ absolute respect for them and their determination to get this story out. It had been silenced for decades.

"Aside from the book, I added snippets of the journalists’ personal lives... to see how people are in their own homes versus how they present at work or in 'public'."

Producer Dede Gardner revealed that over the development process the team were "constantly honing for accuracy and depth" and established contacts and relationships with survivors and witnesses.

She said: "It was vitally important to us to make sure that the real people in this story were a part of the process. It could and would only ever make the story more accurate, authentic and richer on every level."

How closely does the film stick to real events?

Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan in She Said
Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan in She Said. Universal Studios

The film's director Maria Schrader, spoke exclusively with about the film's real life inspiration, and revealed Kantor and Twohey were heavily involves throughout to ensure the film was an accurate representation of not just the book, but also their own personal experiences outside of the investigation itself.

Schrader said: "I met multiple times with Jodi, Megan and then also Rebecca Corbett [played by Patricia Clarkson in the film], who also was a generous person to answer all my questions.

"And I think their contribution was just enormous. First of all, our source material was obviously their book, the very detailed, meticulous, factual report on their research. So now they entrusted us to include something else into the film, which was the personal sides of their lives, which I think is fantastic, because it's so powerful.

"I think the personal sides of their lives makes them accessible and human, because of course they are A-class journalists working in the New York Times, and if they weren't so good and fierce and professional at what they do, they wouldn't be working there."

She continued: "At the same time, they struggle with things we all struggle with and they're working mothers, and their reality as working mothers, even in the New York Times, is different than for men.

"And it also allowed us to include something they consciously left out of their report, which is their doubts and their sleepless nights and having responsibility, or a feeling of responsibility, after these very brave few people share their stories with them, that they may or may not be able to publish it.

"So in having a dialogue with them in detail about all of that added up to my knowledge, besides all the research we did."

How were locations made to look like the real-life places?

The newsroom in She Said
The newsroom in She Said. Universal Studios

One of the key locations seen throughout She Said is the newsroom at the New York Times, and it turns out, what you see on screen is the real deal, as the team shot in the real offices.

Schrader said: "There are various layers of real reality involved. For instance, the New York Times opening their doors for us and shooting the story where it actually happened. Still, it is not a documentary, because all the journalists were at home and every person you see in the New York Times is a background actor, which was also good.

"It's quite challenging to recreate that kind of energy in a newsroom with people who are actually not journalists. So we all watched the real documentary The Fourth Estate, and I also made all the background actors watch it. And we took great care of who to invite being in this crowd of 350 people populating the New York Times."

The film also sees one actress, Ashley Judd, portray herself in the film.

Schrader said of this: "Ashley Judd portraying Ashley Judd, this is still a performance, right? It is not a documentary, it's a very conscious choice. It's my choice how to film it, it's her choice how to portray herself and how to tell the story.

“But it's beautiful because it's surprising. In a fiction film, which we are still in, there is this agreement between a film and an audience that all the characters who might be based on real persons out in the world are played by actors.

"So that's kind of the agreement between feature film and an audience, and all of a sudden, you learn, 'Oh, this is the real place where it happened; oh, this is a real person'. Ashley Judd is Ashley Judd, which is fantastic.

"It's almost like pulling down the fourth wall in the theatre. But at the same time, it's an artistic approach, it's an interpretation, and the sheer fact that I choose the actors, or I invite actors to play these parts, is already an artistic choice and my interpretation, so in the hands of 100 different directors, you'll find 100 different films."

What does the film not depict and why?

Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan in She Said
Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan in She Said. Universal Studios

The film never depicts any of the assaults referred to on screen, with Schrader revealing this was a "rule" the team set for themselves.

She explained: "To not depict assault, to not show female nudity in this particular story, to not see a victim in a crime scene - there's just some rules we set and I guess I was quite familiar with a certain catalogue of questions you have to ask yourself if you touch something like this, because of my other project Unorthodox."

Harvey Weinstein is also rarely seen in the film, with Schrader saying: "Jodi's and Meghan's report was our source material for the script, we stick to their perspective. And this is how they experienced the presence.

"I mean, he's very present, because everyone talks about him. At the same time, he's absent. And the only times they had real encounters with him were through these telephone conversations, the conference calls at the very end, and then the unexpected visit in the New York Times."

She Said is in UK cinemas now. She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey is also available to buy now.

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