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A Chat With Film Director Doug Liman Ahead Of Culture & Cocktails Appearance In Palm Beach

This year’s Culture & Cocktails series by The Cultural Council of Palm Beach County is going to be legendary. In its 14th year, the program focuses on conversational evenings, hosting the most dynamic fixtures in art, cinema and music, with this season's theme being “Legends.”

The series will launch on Nov. 9 with renowned painter and Palm Beach gallery owner Ellen Liman, and her son, Doug, a film director and television producer best known for his intriguing action and thriller films like "The Bourne Identity," "Edge of Tomorrow" and "Fair Game." 

Ellen will lead the conversation at the event, asking her son questions about his career, inspirations and more.

We spoke with Doug ahead of his appearance at the Culture & Cocktails event. Below are highlights from our conversation.

This year's Culture & Cocktails theme is “Legends.” How do you think your mom feels about getting to interview you?

My mom has always been my best agent. I don't know if she's trying to share with me how special Palm Beach is, or if she’s trying to share with Palm Beach how special she thinks her son is. 

How often do you come to Palm Beach?

That's a loaded question to ask a Jewish son whose Jewish mother lives in Palm Beach, but at least once a season. I love my mother, but I don't like hot weather. 

No? Why?

I'm a New Yorker who looks forward to winter. 

Do you ever complain that it gets too cold, or that the winers are too long? 

Last winter I was down visiting my mom, and it was a record cold spell in Florida. I went to go jump in the ocean and my mom, who can be ridiculously over protective, even though I'm an adult and have been for a long time, said, “You're crazy for swimming. It’s freezing out!” I do the Polar Bear Plunge every year and it’s not a logic my mom would ever subscribe to. 

She’s your mother. It’s natural she’d be concerned. 

She has a crazy mother sixth sense, too. I was shooting some of “Fair Game” in Baghdad for the director's cut on Netflix. No one from the studio knew except one producer because they would’ve shut it down. Baghdad was a war zone. I definitely didn't tell my mother. I wasn’t in Baghdad for more than two hours when my assistant called to say my mother had put her on the spot and demanded to know where I was. Being the most honest human on the planet, my assistant told her. 

Ellen and Doug

Do you ever feel you’re taking a mortal risk being in dangerous places around the world?

I do. When we were filming “Fair Game,” it was clear we were not only putting our own lives at risk but the security force that was keeping us safe. We were very high-value targets and a gunfight easily could have broken out over us. We always referred to our security team and when they said, “You have half an hour, then you’ve got to move on,” I finished in 20 minutes. 

Why is “Fair Game” a film everyone should see? 

“Fair Game” is based on Valerie Plame's autobiography of the same name, but we were already shooting the movie by the time her autobiography was published. The reality is, Valerie Plame was never going to be allowed to tell her story. She had sworn an oath of secrecy to the CIA she was never going to violate. Her coworkers were outraged by what happened to her, especially how the right-wing press were discounting her as a “glorified secretary at the CIA” when in reality, she was head of the joint task force on Iraq. She was as senior as they come in the CIA.

I'm interested in movies about ordinary people going through extraordinary situations. In the case of “Fair Game,” you have Joe Wilson, Valerie Plame's husband, taking on not just the President of the United States, but taking on a political dynasty. I'm interested in regular people facing extreme situations. 


Tickets to the Nov. 9 Culture & Cocktails event cost $75 in advance, and $85 at the door. Admission includes complimentary beverages and specialty hors d’oeuvres. Proceeds support the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County. For more information, visit palmbeachculture.com or call 561.472.3330.

The Colony Palm Beach, 155 Hammon Ave., Palm Beach; 561.655.5430; thecolonypalmbeach.com

Photos courtesy of Doug Liman

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