‘The West Wing’: Aaron Sorkin’s Contract for Actors Demanded Dialogue Be Verbatim What He Wrote

by Jeremy Spirogis
The cast of

Twenty-five years in the past, Aaron Sorkin gave the world a fastidiously crafted and well-written TV present that went on to turn out to be top-of-the-line exhibits to have ever aired on TV. For somebody who by no means wished to do TV, Sorkin’s The West Wing proved how versatile and adaptable the author may very well be.

When Sorkin wrote the script, he didn’t tolerate any modifications to the textual content. He reportedly demanded that the present’s dialogue be verbatim what he wrote. 25 years later, viewers are glad Sorkin caught with the choice as a result of The West Wing is among the most outstanding sequence of all time.

NBC was not sure of a political drama

The cast of 'The West Wing.'
L to R: Allison Janney as Claudia Jean ‘C.J.’ Cregg, Richard Schiff as Toby Ziegler, John Spencer as Leo McGarry, Martin Sheen as President Josiah ‘Jed’ Bartlet, Rob Lowe as Sam Seaborn, Dule Hill as Charlie Young, Bradley Whitford as Josh Lyman | NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

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When Sorkin was approached to write down a sequence, he wasn’t positive what he would do. He, subsequently, pitched to John Wells a few sequence with senior White House staffers. Although Sorkin anticipated that Wells would hesitate, he ran with the concept, and Sorkin was left questioning if he had made a mistake.

After the restaurant negotiations, Wells approached NBC and pitched The West Wing. Wells was nonetheless using the ER success wave, so he wished to include The West Wing right into a package deal cope with ER. However, the community’s executives have been at first hesitant.

They believed that nobody can be fascinated about watching a political present. The issues have been all comprehensible contemplating the problems that have been taking place when Sorkin was writing the present’s pilot.

A White House scandal had simply damaged out involving the then-president Bill Clinton, and rumors of an affair with staffer Monica Lewinsky have been circulating. Additionally, a political present had by no means fairly labored out on TV, so the community determined to delay it for one 12 months.

Although NBC didn’t favor The West Wing on the time, they held on to it due to Sorkin’s phrases, and at Wells’ urging, the community greenlit the present for just a few episodes.

‘The West Wing’ wasn’t Sorkin’s first rodeo

Martin Sheen and Dulé Hill in 'The West Wing'Martin Sheen and Dulé Hill in 'The West Wing'
Martin Sheen and Dulé Hill in ‘The West Wing’
| NBCU Photo Bank

RELATED: ‘The West Wing’: Aaron Sorkin’s 385 Page ‘The American President’ Script Was Pieced Into a Pilot

By the time Sorkin was requested for The West Wing’s pilot, he had created and written a number of different profitable exhibits previously. Some of the exhibits that Sorkin had delivered to life have been the American President and A Few Good Men.

The American President was a present that adopted President Andrew Shepherd and his blossoming relationship with campaigner Sydney Ellen Wade. At the helm of the present was Michael Douglas, who performed the Commander in Chief, and Annette Bening, who performed lobbyist Sydney.

 A Few Good Men centered round two US marines who have been court-martialed on costs of murdering their fellow marine. The arrest orders have been issued from increased up, and the 2 marines had to determine the right way to clear their names. The movie starred Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, and Jack Nicholson and was directed by Rob Reiner.

When writing the script for The West Wing, Sorkin took a number of the scraps from the American President and used it as materials for the present’s pilot and story arc.

Aaron Sorkin demanded that the script be verbatim what he wrote

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Part of The West Wing’s attraction was the fast-paced and rhythmic dialogue. The present popularized the walk-and-talk trade that’s generally utilized in today’s exhibits. By the time NBC had agreed to tackle a full season of the political drama, Sorkin had gone to nice pains to make sure that no matter was mentioned was what he wrote.

Actor Martin Sheen, who performed President Bartlet, recalled that the actors have been allowed to make strategies however couldn’t improvise. Sorkin had reportedly gotten livid with Sheen after he rearranged a few of his strains within the audition. Sheen later realized that Sorkin had been writing in meter, and he wanted the present’s rhythmic language to be as he had envisioned it.

Richard Schiff, who performed Toby Ziegler, had improvised in his audition.

“I had been used to improvising and even in the audition I was feeling free to rearrange Aaron’s words a little bit, as lovely as they were. I didn’t find out until after I got the part how furious Aaron was at me for doing that,” Schiff advised EmpireOnline. “They said, ‘He was livid. He did everything in his power not to jump down your throat!’ But I came to realize that Aaron was writing in meter and the rhythm of the language is very important.”

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