When reporter Robyn Doolittle was at the Toronto Star, much of her investigative work involved Rob Ford, the former Toronto mayor who was infamously caught lighting up a crack-cocaine pipe. Of the three journalists who viewed the incriminating video and later probed into it, she was one of them. So when she learned earlier today that a male actor had been cast as the journalist in the fictionalized movie about Ford, she was frustrated.
Much of today’s buzz around the movie, Run This Town, centered on Damian Lewis’s role as Ford, but Doolittle was more surprised by writer-director Ricky Tollman’s decision to cast actor Ben Platt as the investigative journalist. In 2013, Gawker’s John Cook saw the Ford video in person, as did Doolittle and fellow Star reporter Kevin Donovan.
Tuesday afternoon, Donovan tweeted, “I’m glad they’re rewriting the fact that it was a female reporter who investigated Rob Ford. Why have a woman be a lead character when a man could do it? Ammaright?” She insisted that her anger wasn’t directed at Platt, but instead at the casting decision.
Hours after Doolittle’s tweets started to go viral, Platt responded to the controversy, claiming that his character is not based on Doolittle and that the film does not attempt to “co-opt her narrative.”
He continued: “That in and of itself is an incredibly worthy and fascinating story but it’s not the one we are telling, nor would I ever agree to be a part of a film that would attribute the accomplishments of a remarkable woman to a fictional man.”
Tollman echoed the above message, telling Globe & Mail that Platt’s character isn’t based on any reporter at “the Toronto Star, or the Globe and Mail, or Gawker, the people who were really on the case, this isn’t their story.”
“It was a surprise to me (that) people took three words out of the description of the film and spun it into something that it’s not, without having read the script,” he said.
Doolittle is not responding to requests for comments at this time because she’s on maternity leave, but she thanked journalists for their messages.