...this man has been bombarded wiht tragedy and grief in proportions that most of us couldn't bear up under, and yet he continues to rebound.
Did your original perception of Teddy change as you got deeper into the material?
I didn't have as clear a sense of Ted Kennedy's story as I had of his two brothers' stories. In the interviews he gave over the years, he tried to keep his personal life as quiet as he possibly could and stuck to the issues. What impressed me most was his dogged determination, his ability to continue to fight for what he believed in and to stick to his Senate battles year after year after year, in spite of everything else that was going on in his life. It really is an amazing story of determination.
What qualities do you think differentiate and distinguish Teddy from Bobby and JFK?
I think it's his knowledge of the Senate and how it works. When you look back at JFK, you think of his impact as president much more so than his impact as a young senator. And when you think back to Bobby Kennedy, you think of that '68 presidential campaign and all the optimism and enthusiasm he generated. When you think about Teddy Kennedy's impact, you realize that it spans a much longer period of time and throughout the past half century, his platform has always been the Senate.
Teddy ran for president in 1980, but his real legacy is what he was able to accomplish on that Senate floor. Love him or hate him, he's known as the "Lion of the Senate" for good reason.
What is it about the Kennedy family that holds such an enduring appeal for so many people?
I think part of the attraction is that the public is moved by the fact that this family has undergone so much tragedy. Teddy's story is an emotional rollercoaster. When you look at the film, you realize about halfway through that this man has been bombarded with tragedy and grief in proportions that most of us couldn't bear up under, and yet he continues to rebound and do his work and devote himself to the people. He admits to his own personal shortcomings and moves on. And I think it's this dogged determination to do what he feels is right and to help others less fortunate than he that resounds with the public.
What do you hope audiences will take away from the film?
I think Teddy's done something that is quite remarkable, and it's that he has established not only his own legacy, but also worked hard to continue to establish the legacies of his brothers. He devoted much of his career making certain that the unfinished work of his brothers was carried on, was fulfilled. And I think what audiences will see is that Teddy Kennedy was not simply living out his own life during these past decades, he's been doing whatever he can to fulfill their dreams as well.