The Oscars Issue: Screenplay Excerpts From ‘Argo,’ ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ and More

December 30th, 2012

Argo

By Chris Terrio

Under pressure to create a convincing cover story to rescue six Americans hiding in Tehran during the Iranian Revolution, a C.I.A. officer, Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), goes to Los Angeles under the guise of a film producer scouting a location in the Middle East. Along with a special effects makeup guru, John Chambers (John Goodman), and a veteran producer, Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin), Mendez invites the Hollywood press to a staged reading of “Argo,” a science-fiction film he has no intention of making but that might provide the cover for his rescue. As cast members read the screenplay aloud, a montage begins that takes us around the world — from Los Angeles, to C.I.A. headquarters in Virginia, to Tehran — the words of the fantasy film spoken over images of the deepening geopolitical crisis.

On TV: archive footage. Tehran Mary speaks into a microphone.

TEHRAN MARY (on TV) As the Imam Khomeini said —

INT.: THE PIT — C.I.A., LANGLEY — NIGHT

Jack O’Donnell, a C.I.A. official, is watching the same footage on the news.

TEHRAN MARY (on TV) — We have found no evidence that proves that these people are diplomats.

INT.: REVOLUTIONARY PRESS CONFERENCE — TEHRAN — MORNING

TEHRAN MARY All evidence proves that these people are spies.

An array of video cameras on tripods, recording her.

NINA (V.O., as Serksi the Galactic Witch) Our world has changed.

INT.: BEVERLY HILTON HOTEL — STARDUST LOUNGE — DUSK

The reading of “Argo” is happening around a table. Various characters — Nina (as Serksi the Galactic Witch); a Princess; a handsome lead, Achilles Crux. Rows of press watch; cameras record.

PRINCESS ALEPPO The fire of hope stopped burning in this galaxy long ago.

INT.: CANADIAN AMBASSADOR’S RESIDENCE — TEHRAN — NIGHT

MARK LIJEK — 57 — 58 —

Mark, one of the hostages, counts out as Lee Schatz does push-ups. Bob Anders watches a television in the background, subtitled in Persian.

JIMMY CARTER (on TV) We will not yield to international terror or to blackmail.

INT.: MUSHROOM INN (AMERICAN EMBASSY, TEHRAN) — NIGHT

Five of the embassy hostages — men from their 20s to their 50s — are roused from their sleeping mats by Komiteh, the armed revolutionary Islamic group. Hoods are put over their heads. This montage is building, voice upon voice, image upon image, landing on television sets —

PRINCESS ALEPPO The old ways are lost, but there is still hope.

TEHRAN MARY We will begin the trials and carry out the sentences.

The hostages, hoods on their heads, placed against the wall. Hostage takers raise their guns at the men.

GREEN JACKET (a Komiteh member, in Farsi) Fire!

PRINCESS ALEPPO (V.O.) If we find his ship, we will find our chance. Aboard the Argo lies my hope. My hero. My husband.

They pull their triggers. But nothing happens. It’s a mock execution (Feb. 5, 1980). The five hostages, after a beat, scream, collapse or break down.

Focus Features

Moonrise Kingdom

By Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola

After a Khaki Scout, Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman), runs away from his troop at Camp Ivanhoe, Scoutmaster Ward (Edward Norton) and Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) place a phone call. Split screen. On one side of the frame: Captain Sharp and Scoutmaster Ward. On the other side: a 75-year-old man named Billingsley (Larry Pine) with a grizzled face, sitting at a kitchen table drinking coffee and smoking a cigarette.

MR. BILLINGSLEY Hello?

CAPTAIN SHARP Hello, sir. This is Captain Sharp.

MR. BILLINGSLEY Yes, sir. I received your message. Thank you very much. In fact, we’ve come to a decision, as a family, because this is only the most recent incident involving Sam’s troubles, and it’s just not fair to the others, so, unfortunately — we can’t invite him back, at this time.

Captain Sharp and Scoutmaster Ward look puzzled.

CAPTAIN SHARP There’s no cause for alarm, sir. We’ll find him. We’re just notifying you as a matter of protocol and so on.

MR. BILLINGSLEY I understand that. I’m notifying you of the situation on my end.

CAPTAIN SHARP I’m confused by that statement. You can’t invite him back?

MR. BILLINGSLEY I’m afraid not. He’s a good boy, he’s got a good heart, but it’s just not fair to the others, you see? He’s emotionally disturbed.

Long pause. Captain Sharp says finally:

CAPTAIN SHARP Am I speaking to Sam’s father?

Mr. Billingsley frowns. He says, surprised:

MR. BILLINGSLEY No, sir. Sam’s parents passed away a number of years ago. We’re Mr. and Mrs. Billingsley. We’re foster parents. Sam’s been with us since last June.

Scoutmaster Ward interjects:

SCOUTMASTER WARD Excuse me, sir. This is Scoutmaster Ward speaking. Are you implying Sam’s an orphan?

MR. BILLINGSLEY Well, it’s a known fact. Of course he is.

SCOUTMASTER WARD Why the hell doesn’t it say that in the register? Excuse my language.

Scoutmaster Ward holds up a manila file card. Mr. Billingsley shrugs.

MR. BILLINGSLEY I don’t know. What register?

INSERT: The file card. It is labeled Khaki Scout Register. There is a small faded snapshot stapled to the corner of it of a 12-year-old boy standing in a sunny tobacco field wearing a Davy Crockett-style coonskin cap.

MR. BILLINGSLEY We sent him a letter. It should reach you presently.

CAPTAIN SHARP Mr. Billingsley, I’ve got an escaped Khaki Scout. We’re notifying you as a matter of protocol. You say you can’t invite him back? You say he’s an orphan? Well, I don’t understand how that works. (totally confused) What am I supposed to do with him?

MR. BILLINGSLEY That’s up to Social Services. They’ll be in touch with you. They’ll look after Sam. Good luck to you.

Mr. Billingsley hangs up the telephone. Captain Sharp looks to Scoutmaster Ward. Silence.

Jojo Whilden/Weinstein Company

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook.”

Silver Linings Playbook

By David O. Russell

Pat (Bradley Cooper) has recently been released from a psychiatric hospital. This is his first social outing in the eight months since his wife left him and his life fell apart. Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) is recently widowed. They have been at a very awkward dinner party. Tiffany decides to leave early, insisting that Pat, whom she has just met that night, walk her home.

EXT.: STREET — EVENING. Pat and Tiffany walk together in silence.

TIFFANY This is me.

Tiffany and Pat stop, face each other.

TIFFANY Listen, I haven’t dated since before my marriage, so I don’t really remember how this works.

PAT How what works?

TIFFANY I saw the way you were looking at me, Pat. You felt it. I felt it. Don’t lie. We’re not liars like they are. I live in the addition around back, which is completely separate from my parents’ house, so there’s no chance of them walking in on us. I hate the fact that you wore a football jersey to dinner because I hate football, but you can [expletive] me if you turn the lights off, O.K.?

PAT How old are you?

TIFFANY Old enough to have a marriage end and not wind up in a mental hospital.

PAT Look, I had a really good time tonight, and I think you’re really pretty, but I’m married, O.K.?

Pat holds up his hand, displaying his wedding ring.

TIFFANY You’re married. So am I.

Tiffany holds up her hand, displaying her wedding ring.

PAT No, that’s confusing. He’s dead.

Tiffany looks as if she has been punched. She embraces Pat.

PAT Wait, what?

Tiffany starts to cry.

PAT What’s happening? Oh, my God. Hey.

Tiffany pushes Pat away and slaps him across the face. Led Zeppelin’s “What Is and What Should Never Be” starts on the soundtrack. Tiffany turns and walks to her renovated garage apartment.

Suzanne Hanover/Universal Pictures

Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd in “This Is 40,” directed by Judd Apatow.

This Is 40

By Judd Apatow

After 14 years of marriage Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) have two young daughters and a comfortable life in Los Angeles, however fraught with the usual anxieties of money, sex and turning 40. This is a moment from a scene in which they have a terrible fight, and all of their resentments and fears come raging out.

INT.: BEDROOM — CONTINUOUS

DEBBIE What are we even doing? We’re like business associates. We’re like brother and sister. There’s no passion there.

PETE We’re not like brother and sister. You know what we’re like? We’re like Simon and Garfunkel, and somehow you turned me into Garfunkel.

DEBBIE I don’t even know what that means.

PETE Art Garfunkel.

DEBBIE What’s wrong with Art Garfunkel? He has a beautiful voice.

PETE He’s got an amazing voice. He could put a harmony to anything, but what I’m saying is that you turned me into him.

DEBBIE What the hell are you talking about?

PETE Simon controls him.

DEBBIE That’s because Simon writes the [expletive] songs! He’s the better one!

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