In his memoir, the real Daniel Ellsberg claimed that walking out of RAND with the Pentagon Papers (and returning them) over the course of months was a calculated risk, since he had never had his bag checked by security, but he did not know for sure if it was not policy to do so.
Steven Spielberg wanted to have his film released as quickly as possible given the parallels between its theme and the burgeoning political 'fake news' climate in the U.S. According to Meryl Streep, filming started in May (2017) and finished at the end of July (2017) and Spielberg had it cut two weeks later, an unprecedented feat. The gestation from script to final cut lasted a modest 9 months.
Benjamin Bradlee (Tom Hanks's character) had a son named Ben Bradlee Junior who is depicted in the film Spotlight (2015) (played by John Slattery). The film is based on the true story about about the Boston Globe newspaper uncovering a major scandal.
The Post is dedicated to Nora Ephron, once married to Carl Bernstein who with Bob Woodward uncovered the Watergate scandal in 1972 as reporters for The Washington Post. Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks have both worked with Ephron.
Never having previously collaborated with director Steven Spielberg in a director/actor capacity, Meryl Streep was flabbergasted to learn that Spielberg never rehearses with his actors. Co-star Tom Hanks was well aware of this idiosyncrasy but decided, in gleeful anticipation of a 'diva' reaction, not to tell Streep. Despite her initial shock, Meryl and Steven got along extremely well during the shoot with Spielberg being so impressed with her character transformation, he had difficulty restraining himself from constantly complimenting her every take on set.
Tom Hanks has a connection with both of the film's main characters' real-life individuals. Hanks knew Ben Bradlee (portrayed by Hanks), and he met Kay Graham (portrayed by Streep) the day before she died.
The Post is co-screenwriter Josh Singer's third film exploring the importance of journalism in uncovering political scandal following The Fifth Estate (2013) about Julian Assange's Wikileaks organization and Spotlight (2015), which follows the Boston Globe's investigation into Catholic child sex abuse allegations.
The three primary sources for the screenplay's events and dialogue are Katharine Graham's memoir Personal History, Ben Bradlee's memoir A Good Life, and Daniel Ellsberg's memoir Secrets: a Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. Ellsberg was the only one of the principal characters still living at the time of filming. After consulting with Ellsberg, Steven Spielberg expanded on his role with the prologue depicting his disillusionment with the war and his copying of the Pentagon Papers. Originally in the script Ellsberg was going to be an unknown, off-screen character until Ben Bagdikian's meeting with him.
Although this goes unexplained in the movie, when Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo needed to photocopy the pilfered papers, the place they found to do it was an advertising agency founded by Russo's then-girlfriend, Lynda Harris Sinay. For allowing the photocopying to happen at her business, Sinay was pursued by prosecutors, but was designated an unindicted coconspirator and was never actually prosecuted. She later married businessman Stewart Resnick and together they built a highly lucrative business empire that includes such brands as Fiji Water, POM Wonderful pomegranate products, and Teleflora Florists. The Resnicks are also past owners of the Franklin Mint.
Early in this movie, a Washington Post reporter, Judith Martin (played by Jessie Mueller), is banned by the White House from covering Tricia Nixon's wedding because Nixon was incensed that Martin had crashed the earlier wedding of his other daughter, Julie. Although this goes unmentioned in the movie, Martin later became better known as the nationally syndicated etiquette columnist "Miss Manners." In her capacity as an arbiter of societal politeness, Miss Manners now often advises against crashing parties uninvited.
In the scene showing Vietnam War protesters, the words spoken by one of them are taken from Mario Savio's "Put your bodies upon the gears" speech during the 1964 Free Speech Movement at the University of California at Berkeley.
When Daniel Ellsberg and his associates sneak into an office to use a photocopy machine (to reproduce the Pentagon Papers), a movie poster for the 1969 movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) is visible on the wall. That movie shared a star (Robert Redford) and a screenwriter (William Goldman) with the most famous filmed adaptation of the Nixon-era corruption scandals, All the President's Men (1976) (to which The Post makes many cinematic references).
This is the first onscreen acting film collaboration and star teaming of actor Tom Hanks and actress Meryl Streep. The pair have both previously been credited for two pictures the two have both worked on but not in a top billing acting context. Streep did voice work for The Ant Bully (2006) and starred in Mamma Mia! (2008) which Hanks respectively was a producer and executive producer on.
With her Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for The Post (2017), this is the first time that Meryl Streep has been nominated for an Academy Award for a performance in a film nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards since Out of Africa (1985), a gap of thirty-two years, despite the fact she has been nominated fifteen more times since then. She is also the first Best Actress nominee for a Steven Spielberg film since Whoopi Goldberg for The Color Purple (1985) in 1986 and the first woman to receive an acting nomination for a film directed by him since Sally Field for Lincoln (2012) in 2013.
The Linotype operators are using a very distinct fingering with their index, middle, third finger, and thumb of both hands, different than a regular typewriter. The Post and other newspapers generally went to 'off-set' printing during the '70s.
Though the movie is not about Watergate, it is fitting that the movie ends with the depiction of the Watergate break-in, since it is arguably true that the Watergate break-in would not have happened without the publication of the Pentagon Papers. Nixon's creation of the infamous "Plumbers" group was a direct response to the leaking of the Pentagon Papers (the Plumbers first major effort being breaking into the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist in an effort to find discrediting information on him). It would be the major figures in the Plumbers who would hatch and execute the plot to break into the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate.
Actors Tracy Letts and Carrie Coon are a married couple in real life, although they share no scenes together in this film. Though they have collaborated on stage before, this is the first feature film in which both of them appear.
All of the newspaper sound in this movie was recorded with a vintage microphone from the 1970s. The newspaper prop used during foley recording was also a vintage newspaper from 1970s England. The newspaper back then had a much softer sound making the foley recording pretty authentic.
By appearing in three Best Picture Oscar nominees in 2017, The Shape of Water (2017), Call Me by Your Name (2017) and this film, Michael Stuhlbarg overtook co-star Meryl Streep, in number of Best Picture nominees that each has appeared in. Michael Stuhlbarg has appeared in seven films nominated for the coveted award released by the end of 2017, while Meryl Streep has appeared in only six.
It marks as the very first time Spielberg's regular editor Michael Kahn edits his film along with another editor, in this case Sarah Broshar, who has credits as associated editor in the previous Spielberg films. This is also the second Spielberg film to be edited by two people; the first film was Spielberg's theatrical debut, The Sugarland Express (1974), which was edited by Edward M. Abroms and Verna Fields.
It is raining in nearly all of the brief scenes of the Vietnam War. In Forrest Gump (1994), the title character played by Tom Hanks, who also stars in this film, serves in the war and mentions on two occasions how much it rained there.
In The Money Pit (1986), Tom Hanks plays entertainment attorney Walter Fielding, one of whose clients is a band called 'Cheap Girls'. Their leader, played by Leslie West tells Walter that they want to change the band's name to 'Meryl Streep'.
The New York Times had published the Pentagon Papers before The Washington Post and had set the stage for legal battle that ended with the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the newspaper in the the case New York Times Co. v. United States (403 U.S. 713) . In June 2011, the entire Pentagon Papers were declassified and made public. In the 6-3 Court decision, Justice Hugo Black wrote, "Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell."
The last scene of the film shows the Watergate break-in, which was famously reported on by the Washington Post. In Forrest Gump (1994), the titular character, portrayed by Tom Hanks, spots the Watergate burglars and calls the police to report it.