McAdams picked up on Pfeiffer's ability to coax journalistically valuable details from her subjects. "These victims are grown men now, blue-collar men who aren't comfortable sharing their feelings with anyone, let alone a reporter. Sacha's an extraordinary listener and very compassionate but she also needed to ask these men to be specific in the language they used to describe their experience so that their stories wouldn't just be distilled down to the word 'molested.'"
McCarthy met McAdams via Skype and immediately picked up on the actresses' down-to- earth accessibility. "There's a directness to both Sacha and Rachel," he says "They're smart but never pushy, and Sacha has this ease in communicating, which Rachel has in her own right. This plays out beautifully when you see that Rachel, as Sacha, is relentless without ever being a nuisance. Rachel has a wonderful way of connecting with people."
Liev Schreiber invests his portrayal of Boston Globe executive editor Marty Baron with a quiet resoluteness that writer Singer observed while researching the film. "When I interviewed Marty in Washington, D.C., he had a Post-It note in his office that read 'I am not warm and fuzzy.' Marty doesn't care at all about who he's going to piss off. His job is to get the story."
Schreiber, who was recently nominated for an Emmy® for his performance in the title role of Showtime's crime drama Ray Donovan, instantly gravitated to the uncompromising character of Baron. "One of the film's most exciting aspects for me came about when I got the opportunity to take the train down to Washington and meet Marty Baron," says Schreiber. "It was a treat to spend time with him and really understand the dire straits a lot of newspapers in this country find themselves in. In fact, that's one reason I love this script so much—it really champions newspapers and journalists.
"Marty and the other journalists in this story are heroes to me," the actor continues. "Having spoken to Marty, one thing I realized is that his job was all-consuming. He didn't care where the story took him. Marty likes a fight and he doesn't back down and he was willing to take on very intimidating people and organizations to get at the truth."
Former Globe Deputy Managing Editor Ben Bradlee Jr. connected easily with the actor who portrays him on screen. "When I learned John Slattery was cast to play me, I immediately thought of the rogue he played in 'Man Men.' I like rogues. And I like John. We spent a lot of time together. He's a serious, and being from Boston we share an interest in the Red Sox."
McCarthy envisioned Slattery, a longtime friend, as the perfect on-screen counterpart to Bradlee. "Like Ben, John's gruff and frank and no BS," McCarthy says. "He's a guy's guy and there's a real cocksureness to the way he works that made John perfect to portray Ben."
Slattery, known to millions as glib ad-agency partner Roger Sterling on the Emmy-winning AMC series, savored the role of Bradlee. "Ben's very smart and kind of bigger-than-life, so there was a lot to work with," says the actor. "It's hard to over-emphasize the prominence of the Catholic Church in the city at the time. It had the country's biggest archdiocese and the Globe readership was something like 53 percent Catholic. For Bradlee to take on the Church in Boston was huge."
Because Slattery was a hometown boy, the film's shooting locations fell well within his comfort zone, including the scenes filmed at Fenway Park, where his uncle worked for decades as a Red Sox employee. But as the Spotlight story unfolds, his character experiences massive anxiety. "Ben feels this added pressure as the investigation develops," Slattery explains. "If you're going to go this far out on a limb to report a story this big, and this emotional, and so potentially damaging to the institution of the Catholic Church, then you'd better get it right."
Rounding out the Spotlight team is reporter Matt Carroll, portrayed by Brian d'Arcy James. "Matt's the self-described geek of the group," James says about Carroll, who now works as a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab's Center for Civic Media. "Matt brought this passion for collating all this data about priests and incidents over a 30-year span on Excel spread sheets. Then he boiled it down to help tell the story based on what the numbers were telling him."
Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, portrayed by Stanley Tucci, provides invaluable intel to the Spotlight team. "He's made it his mission in life to get justice for hundreds of people," says Tucci. The actor never met Garabedian in person but studied hours of television news conferences and other material. "If you think about the stories that Garabedian has heard, from young kids to people in their 80s who were abused when they were eight years old, I can only imagine that would take a toll on your psyche. Yet he's indefatigable."