The most powerful woman in the world is about to get the Hollywood treatment.
Hillary Clinton, the former first lady, senator, and secretary of state—who is maybe running for president in 2016—is the subject of a new feature film about her youth. Rodham focuses on 1974, when the 26-year-old was a determined—and relatively humorless—lawyer working as a member of the House impeachment inquiry staff in Washington, D.C. When she wasn’t helping impeach Nixon, Rodham was struggling to maintain a long-distance relationship with a suave Arkansas law professor by the name of Bill Clinton, who was himself busy running for the House of Representatives in his home state.
Rodham was written by Young Il Kim, a relatively unknown South Korean. Though casting and filming haven’t begun, the movie is set to be produced by Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen of Temple Hill Entertainment (The Twilight Saga) and directed by James Ponsoldt, whose coming-of-age drama The Spectacular Now was a standout at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The screenplay for Rodham was a hot commodity in Hollywood, earning a place on the 2012 Black List—an annual compendium of the best unproduced screenplays floating around Tinseltown. And according to The Wrap, “industry executives who have read the script claim it offers a potentially award-worthy role for one lucky ingenue.” Kim, meanwhile, has received the Sundance Institute’s Alfred P. Sloan Commissioning Grant to develop his next project—an original, untitled script based on the life of Stephen Hawking.
The Daily Beast has obtained a copy of what may or may not be the final screenplay to Rodham. Here are the juiciest bits, from a steamy love scene between Hillary and Bill to her presidential aspirations.
The screenplay’s opening description of Yale law student Hillary Rodham is less than flattering, to say the least. Early in the script, she’s seen tutoring Robert Reich at the Yale Law School library while Joe Lieberman campaigns for his run for the Connecticut state Senate. She is described as a blonde with an “awful haircut” whose face is obscured by a “hideous pair of Coke-bottle glasses” and who is, in totality, “the valedictorian of the ‘look-like-shit school of feminism.’” Bill Clinton, meanwhile, is described as a “Viking” with a “full mane” and “six-inch beard.”
Hillary is now a 26-year-old, elegantly dressed woman working for the Children’s Defense Fund, while Bill is an assistant professor of law at the University of Arkansas. While flirting with a giggling waitress, Bill mentions how the watermelons of Hope, Arkansas, are the “firmest, juiciest melons” he’s ever seen (a friend of Bill’s, Terry Kirkpatrick, later tells Hillary that this is his go-to pickup line). Bill casually proposes to Hillary as the resignation of Vice President Spiro Agnew plays in the background. Hillary questions why a woman—in this case, Pat Nixon—can’t be president. This is the first of many references by various characters to Hillary’s dream of being president.
Hillary and Bill go back to her apartment and “devour each other,” as Bill presses Hillary against the wall, tears off her blouse, and “buries his head into her cleavage.” Their tryst, however, is broken up several times by messages playing from the answering machine and never comes to fruition. Later on, Hillary complains about her sex life with Bill to two friends, claiming Bill is just using her for her D.C. apartment. When asked if the two have sex, she replies, “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘sex’ means.”
The majority of the screenplay is dedicated to Hillary’s time as a member of the impeachment inquiry staff in Washington advising the House Committee on the Judiciary during the Watergate scandal. In 1974 Hillary was one of 43 lawyers on the staff, and she flirts with another member, Republican William Weld, who she thinks resembles Ryan O’Neal in Love Story. Her friends think Weld is a much better fit for her than Bill Clinton is. Reporter Bob Woodward, meanwhile, refers to Hillary as “the Jill Wine Volner of the impeachment inquiry committee,” much to her chagrin. Because of this comment, John Doar, who heads the committee, suggests that Hillary ditch her skirts for pants. “From this day forward, she will always wear pantsuits,” says the script.
Hillary is on a hotel rooftop having a drink with William Weld, who has just surprised her on her birthday with a vinyl record of the greatest hits from the Watergate tapes. They’re listening to the tapes on the rooftop of the Congressional Hotel and “draw closer for that inevitable kiss” when the moment is broken up by Terry Kirkpatrick, who tells Hillary she has a call from Bill Clinton—whom she hasn’t been close to in quite some time—wishing her happy birthday. The flirtation with Weld is seemingly over, and Bill plays Hillary both “Happy Birthday” and “Hail to the Chief” on the saxophone. This, combined with help advising her on the impeachment-committee work, apparently wins her back.
Hillary and the impeachment-inquiry staff don’t have enough evidence to impeach Nixon, but Bill gives Hillary some advice, telling her to subpoena the recordings from the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Hillary is so elated, she tells Bill, “I fuckin’ love you. I mean that. I love you, and I want to fuck you.” (In the script, Hillary often says “motherfuckin’,” much to Bill’s delight.)
Bill Clinton’s mother, Virginia, disapproves of Hillary. She believes a woman needs to know her way around the kitchen, but Hillary, according to Bill, doesn’t know how to cook. Later she says that Hillary is “just a phase” for Bill, before pressing her to wear something prettier for her boy. Hillary ultimately is pressured into changing into a tight-fitting blue prom dress. Later, Bill Clinton’s half-brother, Roger Clinton Jr., 18, asks a group of people, “Who do you think fucked more women? Bill or Hillary?” to laughs from a crowd of Bill’s friends. Roger is depicted as a stoner who smokes marijuana out of a bong.
It’s still 1974, and Hillary is down in Arkansas helping Bill on campaign running for the House of Representatives against Republican incumbent John Paul Hammerschmidt. Bill’s campaign staffers, including campaign head Paul Fray, openly mock Hillary and are tired of her presence, which they feel is patronizing to them, since she’s not only from D.C., but also provided a heavy edit to one of Bill’s campaign speeches that irked staffers. Hillary bursts into Bill’s office to complain of her treatment just as a 20-year-old giggling coed comes out. Bill explains that she’s a former student of his and the president of the Arkansas College Democrats. It’s one of many references to Bill’s popularity with the ladies. Hillary eventually leaves Bill, and Arkansas, out of frustration to return to Washington.
After Nixon is impeached and Hillary’s work with the impeachment-inquiry staff is over, she decides to head to Arkansas to be with Bill. It’s still 1974. Her friend Betsey Wright objects, saying, “You can’t both be president!” But Hillary doesn’t care, and she’s off to see Bill. Betsey decides to accompany her. It’s later revealed before the credits that President Bill Clinton was impeached “using the procedure developed by Hillary Rodham in 1974.”