When director Rob Reiner (“When Harry Met Sally,” “A Few Good Men”) began shooting his drama “Shock and Awe” — about the lead-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion and two Knight Ridder reporters (portrayed by Woody Harrelson and James Marsden) who doubted the government line that weapons of mass destruction existed there — he had a veteran actor lined up to play the key role of editor John Walcott.
“It was supposed to be Alec Baldwin,” Reiner, 71, tells The Post over the phone from Los Angeles. “We had to rearrange things for him so he could go up to New York [from where the production was shooting in Louisiana] and play Donald Trump [on ‘Saturday Night Live’]. We had already been shooting for a while with Woody and James, and then we got a call from his agent saying, ‘He’s dropping out. He can’t do the movie.’ Well, we had to shoot on Monday. I didn’t know what to do. Michele, my wife, she’s a producer on the film, and she said, ‘Why don’t you play the part?’ I don’t like acting and directing — it’s too much, it splits focus,” he says. “But what am I gonna do? I’m available and I work cheap.”
Rob Reiner as editor John Walcott in “Shock and Awe.”Vertical EntertainmentThus, Reiner ended up with one of the lead roles in his film, alongside Harrelson, Marsden and Tommy Lee Jones as war correspondent Joe Galloway. He thinks the new film “just couldn’t be more timely.”
“There’s a quote from [journalist] Bill Moyers at the beginning of the film: ‘There is no more important struggle for American democracy than insuring a diverse, independent and free media.’ And right now the press is under attack. Whether or not democracy is gonna survive depends on whether or not the public can get the truth — and whether the press can get to the truth. I hope people will see it as a cautionary tale.”
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