Based on a Vanity Fair article, Michael Mann and Eric Roth's The Insider presents a modern man's attempt to navigate a personal and moral tempest. Medical researcher and former employee of tobacco giant "Brown and Williamson" Jeffrey Wigand is faced with a no-win proposition. He must either protect his family's material well-being by remaining silent about serious crimes perpetrated by his former employer, or he must meet the dictates of his conscience and go up against big tobacco directly, at the risk of losing everything he loves. Either way, Wigand will pay a heavy price. The screenplay excerpt below presents Wigand (played by Russell Crowe) in his initial stages of deliberation. Pressured to remain silent by Brown and Williamson but urged to go public by 60 Minutes executive producer Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino), Wigand is at a crossroads. Bergman, too, will come to his own fork in the road as he watches a corporate versus conscience crisis emerge on his own turf. As Faulkner suggested, the great stories—the ones that stay with us—are those in which the human heart is in conflict with itself. We have that here.


from The Insider

screenplay by Michael Mann and Eric Roth

based on the Vanity Fair article "The Man Who
Knew Too Much," by Marie Brenner

Reading well requires an anticipatory imagination.
As we read, we predict what is coming next, and we
do our best to envision authentic voices and scenes.
Our imaginings should compel us to mimic the very
voices that we imagine, and we should strive to hear
clearly (and recreate aloud) their cadence, timing, and tone.

Ours will not be a class in which mediocre vocal reading
is acceptable. Language is meant to be relished,
not relegated to the artificiality of a classroom
"exercise." We want it to be REAL, so we'll
MAKE IT REAL, and then we'll weigh
our reading against the experts,
in this case Pacino and Crowe.


Please read the following script in advance of class.
Do not watch or revisit the film. Come prepared to
present either role with the full intensity of the
character himself, in the midst of his given crisis.



Bergman
Come here. I want to talk to you.

Wigand
Good. I want to talk to you.

Bergman
I did not burn you. I did not give you up to anyone.

Wigand
This is my house. This is my wife. These are my kids.
What business do we have?

Bergman
To straighten something out with you.
Right here. Right now.

Wigand
You didn't mention my name?
You haven't talked to anyone about me?

Bergman
What would I have mentioned your name about?

Wigand
Why do Brown and Williamson know I spoke with you?

Bergman
How the hell do I know about Brown and Williamson?

Wigand
It happened just after I talked with you.

Bergman
Why would I know about that?

Wigand
I do not like coincidences.

Bergman
Well, I don't like paranoid accusations.
I'm a journalist. Think. Use your head.
How do I operate as a journalist? By screwing

the people who could provide me with information
before they provided me with it?


Wigand
You came all the way down here to tell me that?

Bergman
No, I did not. Big tobacco is a big story and you've
got something important to say, I can tell. But, yes, I did.
I came all the way down here to tell you—story,
or no story, fuck your story—I don't burn people.

(Pause)

Wigand
You can drive with me while I take the girls to school.

(Break)



Wigand
My little girl has acute asthma, Deborah, my oldest
daughter; and I'm unemployed, so I have to
protect my medical coverage. So I left them a
message this morning ... their
expanded
confidentiality agreement—I will sign it.

Bergman
They're afraid of you, aren't they?

Wigand
They should be.

Bergman
Well, talk to me outside the zone of your agreement.

Wigand
Like what?

Bergman
Like where'd you work before Brown and Williamson?

Wigand
Johnson and Johnson. Union Carbide in Japan.
I was the General Manager and Director of
New Products. I speak Japanese. I was the Director
of Corporate Development at Pfizer. All health
related. What else—outside the zone?

Bergman
I don't know—do you think the Knicks are
going to make it to the semi-finals?

(break)


Bergman
... just give me an example.

Wigand
Okay, for example, um, James Burke—
CEO of Johnson and Johnson.

Bergman
Yeah.

Wigand
When he found out that some lunatic had
put poison in Tylenol bottles...

Bergman
Yeah.

Wigand
He didn't argue with the FDA—he didn't even wait
for the FDA to tell him—he just pulled Tylenol
off every shelf and every store right across America
instantly. And then he developed a safety cap.
Because, look, as a CEO, sure, he's got to a be a great
businessman, but he's also a man of science, so
he's not going to allow his company to put on
the shelf a product that might hurt people.
Not like the seven dwarfs.

Bergman
The seven dwarfs?

Wigand
Seven CEOs of big tobacco. They got in front
of Congress that time ... on television.

Bergman
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah—and swore under oath
that they know nothing about addiction disease.

Wigand
It was on C-Span, yeah.

Bergman
Okay. So here you are—you go to work for tobacco—
you come from corporate cultures where research,
really creative thinking, these are core values.
You go to tobacco. Tobacco's a sales culture—
market and sell enormous volume, go to a lot of
golf tournaments, the hell with everything else.
What are you doing? Why are you working
for tobacco in the first place?

Wigand
I can't talk about it.

Bergman
(mildly derisive laugh)

Wigand
The work I was supposed to do might have
had some positive effect. I don't know.
It could have been beneficial. Mostly
I got paid a lot. I took the money.
My wife was happy. My kids got
good medical, good schools, got a
great house. I mean, what
the hell is wrong with that?

Bergman
Nothing's wrong with that.
That's it. You're making money.
You're providing for your family.
What could be wrong with that?

Wigand
I always thought of myself as
a man of science, that's
what's wrong with it.


Bergman
Then, uh, you're in a state of conflict,
Jeff. Because, look, here's how it
lays out: if you got vital insider
stuff, the American people, for their
welfare, really do need to know
and you feel impelled to disclose it
and violate your agreement in doing so,
that's one thing. On the other hand,
if you want to honor this agreement
then, uh, that's simple. You say
nothing. You do nothing.

There's only one guy who can
figure that out for you, and that's
you—all by yourself.

Wigand
I got to go pick up the girls.
They only had a half-a-day.