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The Words (2012)

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A writer at the peak of his literary success discovers the steep price he must pay for stealing another man's work.
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1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Dennis Quaid ... Clay Hammond
John Hannah ... Richard Ford
Jeremy Irons ... The Old Man
Bradley Cooper ... Rory Jansen
Zoe Saldana ... Dora Jansen (as Zoë Saldana)
Vito DeFilippo Vito DeFilippo ... New York Apartment Doorman (as Vito De Filippo)
Michael McKean ... Nelson Wylie
Lucinda Davis ... Vendor
J.K. Simmons ... Mr. Jansen
Olivia Wilde ... Daniella
James Babson ... Dan Zuckerman
Kevin Desfosses ... Rory's Assistant (as Kevin Desfossés)
Ron Rifkin ... Timothy Epstein
Brian Klugman ... Jason Rosen
Liz Stauber ... Camy Rosen (as Elizabeth Stauber)


Layered romantic drama The Words follows young writer Rory Jansen who finally achieves long sought after literary success after publishing the next great American novel. There's only one catch - he didn't write it. As the past comes back to haunt him and his literary star continues to rise, Jansen is forced to confront the steep price that must be paid for stealing another man's work, and for placing ambition and success above life's most fundamental three words. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


There's more than one way to take a life.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language and smoking | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:

Official site




English | French

Release Date:

7 September 2012 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Palabras robadas See more »

Filming Locations:

Montréal, Québec, Canada


Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,750,894, 9 September 2012, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$11,494,838, 30 May 2013

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$13,231,461, 30 May 2013
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Datasat | Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Lee Sternthal and Brian Klugman wrote the script back in 1999. As friends of Bradley Cooper before his The Hangover (2009) fame, they ask him to play the lead, he accepted then, and kept his word more than ten years later. See more »


When Rory and Dora are arguing in the alley outside of the restaurant, Rory's words do not match his lips' movements. See more »


The Old Man: He should've been somebody everyone knows.
Rory Jansen: Yeah... but what happened?
The Old Man: Life.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The US theatrical version was slightly censored for a PG-13 rating, removing several instances of strong language, and re-edited for shorter running time of 97 minutes. The US Blu-ray and DVD contain a 102 minute extended cut that restores these alterations, and several international theatrical releases (such as the UK), are based on this version. See more »


References Cheers (1982) See more »


Harry Hops
Written by Cory Wong (ASCAP)
Performed by Martin Capitol
Courtesy of Music Dealers
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Highly Underrated
8 September 2014 | by chandlernealSee all my reviews

The Words opens with author Clay Hammond (Denis Quaid) giving a reading for his recent best-selling book, The Words. Hammond's reading takes us into the life of his character, Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper), a young author struggling to publish his books make ends meet.

One night, Jansen discovers an old manuscript hidden in an antique briefcase that his wife Dora (Zoe Saldana) purchased for him on their honeymoon in Paris. He reads the yellowed first-draft of the novel, marveling at the unknown author's talent.

Jansen struggles with what he should do with the masterpiece he's found. Eventually, he decides to type the entire novel on his laptop so he can "feel the words flow" through his own fingers.

When his wife sees the novel on his computer, she—in typical Hollywood fashion—assumes he wrote it and praises him for his depth and creativity before he has a chance to tell her the truth.

From here, the film skips back and forth between the fictional Rory and Dora Jansen, and the story of their creator, Clay Hammond.

Rory publishes the manuscript under his own name and struggles with the repercussions, while in "real life," Hammond flirts with a young college student named Daniella (Olivia Wilde) at his sophisticated book reading. Despite the film's fluctuating story lines, The Words' plot is addictively intriguing and surprisingly easy to follow. My family doesn't often sit down to watch a movie without a magazine or iPad in hand, but this movie kept us all riveted.

It's also worth noting that we had our eyes glued to the screen in the absence of explosions, sex scenes, or significant amounts of humor. The film's mysterious and captivating plot line—along with simple but genuine characters—were enough to hold our attention.

The story expands when the true author of Jansen's novel (Jeremy Irons, the "Old Man") approaches Jansen and reveals his heart-wrenching account of the loss of his manuscript and family. His tale transports us to Paris during World War II, adding another captivating plot line to the already multi-layered story.

In addition to an elevated storyline, the Old Man's account in the movie adds a deeper visual element to the film. A relatively low-budget, low-key film, The Words clearly made the most of its production site in Montreal, Canada. Shots of present-day New York and 1940s Paris are both believable and idealistic, effortlessly transporting viewers from modern day to war time.

As Bradley Cooper's character becomes a liar of extraordinary proportions, I still found myself rooting for him throughout the film. Jansen's shortcomings raise many stimulating questions about truth and integrity, while his struggle for achievement and creativity makes him highly relatable (especially as a writer).

While the movie held my interest the majority of the time, I felt much less invested in the real-life storyline of author Clay Hammond's and student Daniella. The only thing that kept me interested in the seedy, wealthy author and his adoring fan was the question of how they tied in to Rory Jansen's story.

And that is, perhaps, the great mystery of the film—why does Rory Jansen matter to Clay Hammond, and vice versa?

The pursuit of an answer to this question, along with stimulating questions of integrity and consequence are what make The Words a must-see movie for anyone who desires meaningful conversation at the end of a film. It makes us question our motives and beliefs, and it gives a sympathetic face to the "struggling artist" stigma. Considering I'd never heard of the movie until I rented it, I'd say it's highly underrated.

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