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A chilling drama exposing the dark side of the American dream, screenwriter Niels Mueller's (Tadpole) directorial debut tells the tragic true story of Sam Bicke (Sean Penn), a disillusioned "everyman" who, in 1974, was driven to plot the assassination of the 37th President of the United States. As Sam's marriage and work life unravel against the backdrop of a society worn down by political corruption, the Watergate scandal and the Vietnam War, Sam believes he's found the one person responsible for his, and America's problems: Richard Nixon. Co-starring Naomi Watts, Don Cheadle and Jack Thompson.
 

 The Assassination of Richard Nixon

One man’s terrorist is another man’s patriot…it all depends on which side of the fence you happen to be on…It’s a quarter after four in the morning now, I’m at the airport. This used to be called Friendship Airport. That’s one thing this world doesn’t have enough of or much of, that is friendship. Very unfortunate that I have to kill and get killed to make a point, but if I make the point and show you the futility of this stupid greed; when we live in a world that could be plentiful for everybody. If I could show you that millionaires do not have to be billionaires to be happy–they should not have to be, while other people do without. If that lesson can be learned, and I doubt if it can, it hasn’t been learned for thousands of years, but somebody has to resist, just somebody has to resist or else there is no end to tyranny…
–Sam Bicke 1974

Sam Bicke spoke these words into the microphone of his reel-to-reel tape recorder as he sat in his parked car outside the Baltimore-Washington International Airport on February 22, 1974. The Assassination of Richard Nixon is based on the true story of this American “everyman” who, in 1974, attempted to assassinate President Richard Nixon. Why was he at the airport? Because he planned to hijack a passenger jetliner and dive bomb it into the White House. After Kevin Kennedy and I finished the screenplay in 1999–you can go online to confirm the year–you’ll see blurbs in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter announcing that Sean Penn had signed on to play the lead. People reading the script would invariably comment on the “crazy” or “hair-brained” scheme Mr. Bicke had come up with to take out the Commander in Chief. That commentary changed after 9/11. The script did not.

There were film companies that suggested the script be changed, who stated flat-out that, after 9/11, they would “never make a film with an ending like that.” Others felt that the film shouldn’t be made…period. My feeling was that the fact that something based on truth has become more relevant doesn’t mean you shove it in a dark corner somewhere. “Why run away from relevance?” was my thought–especially when people found the script engrossing and entertaining. Luckily I found producers who agreed with me, who embraced the relevance of the material and who also responded to both the drama and the undercurrent of humor in the story. And luckily I had Sean Penn who delivered all of the above in spades.

Don’t worry, in talking about the ending, I haven’t really given anything away…you’ll see! At least I hope you will.