'Gaslit': Starz's Watergate show marks Sean Penn and Julia Roberts' first-ever collaboration
Starz's ‘Gaslit’ takes a fresh look at the Watergate scandal, giving importance to key players whose voices have historically been silenced. The story of the Watergate scandal under President Richard Nixon has been told time and time again. 'Gaslit' is told from the perspective of Martha Mitchell, the wife of Nixon’s Attorney General, John N Mitchell. Martha was the first person to publicly speak out about Nixon’s involvement in Watergate. The couple split up in 1973 amid the scandal.
‘Gaslit’ features a stellar cast, including Julia Roberts, Sean Penn, Dan Stevens, Betty Gilpin, and Shea Whigham, among others. Oscar-winning pals Julia Roberts and Sean Penn star opposite each other as Martha Mitchell and John N. Mitchell. This is the first time the two are collaborating together. Roberts said she has been close friends with Sean for years and they have always wanted to work together, having met when she was 16 or 17 years old.
The 'Pretty Woman' star has always admired Sean and even described him as 'one of the great American actors of all time'. In fact, Roberts agreed to play Martha if Penn could play her husband. She told USA Today, "He's great at portraying anything, but the idea of seeing him really inhabit and have this complete and total internal and external transformation into John Mitchell, it's pretty astonishing. To be up close to that every day was remarkable." “There is literally no Martha without John—the good, the bad, the sad of that statement,” she continued. “And so to have my sandbox partner be this guy, it was a dream come true.”
Penn also expressed his admiration for his co-star and revealed that he and Roberts had been waiting for years to collaborate. Speaking with Vanity Fair, he stated that they were both offered many scripts, but were waiting for something rich and exciting. Penn hopes that 'Gaslit' paints a more honest portrait of what happened during Watergate—and that with the show delving into the characters of Martha and John Mitchell, viewers learn something from the mistakes of the past.
Written by Sam Esmail, Robbie Pickering, and Leon Neyfakh, 'Gaslit' Episode 1 is available to stream on Starz.