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Latter-day Saint (Mormon) Characters
in the movie

Traffic (2000)

"Traffic" (2000)
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Screenplay by Stephen Gaghan
Adapted from miniseries written by Simon Moore

Starring: Michael Douglas, Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Quaid, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Luis Guzman, Albert Finney, James Brolin, Harry Reid, Orrin G. Hatch, Amy Irving

MPAA Rating: R
U.S. Box Office: $124,107,476
Production budget: $48,000,000

"Traffic" takes a look at the U.S. war on illegal drugs from the perspectives of different people touched by the issue. Michael Douglas stars as "Robert Hudson Wakefield," a conservative judge who has just been appointed by the President of the United States to spearhead a renewed effort against the narcotics trade. The film received four Academy Awards: Best Editing, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (for Benicio Del Toro). It was also nominated for Best Picture.

In one memorable scene, Wakefield meets various U.S. Senators, Representatives and other Washington power brokers, all of whom are eager to bend his ear and tell him their ideas and suggestions for combatting the war on drugs. Dialogue for some fictional characters was written out in the script, allowing the film to air certain viewpoints. But much of the dialogue heard in the film was actually improvised or not scripted. The director invited real-life politicians to participate in the filming of this scene. They played themselves, and treated Michael Douglas as if he really were a newly appointed drug czar, each telling him what they really would tell somebody in his position.

Only a handfull of real-life politicians can heard and seen talking to Michael Douglas in the actual film. Two of these senators are devout Latter-day Saints: Sen. Orrin Hatch from Utah (Republican, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee) and Sen. Harry Reid from Nevada (Democrat, Senate Minority Whip). Because these senators are playing themselves, this means that the film has two openly Latter-day Saint minor characters, although their religious affiliation is not explicitly mentioned in the film.

The actual script does not specify which real-life politicans will be in this scene, nor does it specify what they will say. Below is the excerpt from the script which describes this scene (from http://www.weeklyscript.com/Traffic.txt):



               A power cocktail party in full swing.  This is where most of 
               the business in Washington gets done.

Below is the dialogue from this scene, as it can be heard in the movie. Note that in the scene transcribed below, only Senators Harry Reid and Orrin Hatch are Latter-day Saints:

Senator Harry Reid (D, Nevada): [Talking to Wakefield (Michael Douglas)] Education and rehabilitation. Prevention. That's not significant to these reporters. [Amicably gesturing to reporter Jeff Podolsky, standing next to him.]

Robert Hudson Wakefield (Michael Douglas): Uhm hm.

Sen. Harry Reid: They want to see people in prison. They want to see the gory aspect of the drug problem.

[The film here cuts to another moment at the cocktail part, showing Michael Douglas talking to Sen. Barbara Boxer. The film then cuts back to the scene with Sen. Harry Reid and Jeff Podolsky talking to Michael Douglas.]

Wakefield (Michael Douglas): [To Sen. Boxer] Thank you so much for sharing your point of view and I look forward to this opportunity for working with you.

Sen. Barbara Boxer: Well call me, because I have a good bill on treatment on demand. I could use your help.

Wakefield (Michael Douglas): I look forward to it.

Sen. Barbara Boxer: Okay.

Wakefield (Michael Douglas): Excellent.

Sen. Barbara Boxer: Great.

[Cut back to scene with Sen. Harry Reid, reporter Jeff Podolsky and Michael Douglas.]

Jeff Podolsky / Reporter: If a judge or if, uh, a politician is willing to put a reefer in their mouth, I'll do a story on it.

Wakefield (Michael Douglas): Right.

[Cut to another moment at the party. Michael Douglas is listening to Sen. Orrin Hatch speak, with Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa standing at Sen. Hatch's side, listening and nodding in agreement.]

Senator Orrin Hatch (R, Utah): Stand up and be independent, because I don't care who's President, I don't care who the members of Congress are, I don't care who you have to deal with... If you're independent...

Wakefield (Michael Douglas): Right. [Nodding in agreement.]

Sen. Orrin Hatch:: ...If you use that bully pulpit...

Wakefield (Michael Douglas): Right. [Nodding in agreement.]

Sen. Orrin Hatch:: That's where the power is.

Webpage created 21 October 2004.