Filmmaker Alex Gibney on ‘The Armstrong Lie’

November 27, 2013 10:01 PM

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Filmmaker Alex Gibney on ‘The Armstrong Lie’

And on that planet, documentarian Alex Gibney made an uplifting, intimate documentary about a hero's comeback at the 2009 Tour de France.

In fact, Gibney has a cut-and-edited copy of that very doc, tentatively titled The Road Back. And we will likely never see it - not even as a DVD extra on the home video release of his new movie The Armstrong Lie, which opens in limited release this week.

"I did dodge a bullet, there's no question about it," says Gibney, who now has one more movie about malfeasance on his resume, to go along with Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room, Client 9: The Rise And Fall Of Eliot Spitzer and Casino Jack And The United States Of Money.

"And I thought, 'Hmm, that's a good story, and it's a simple sports story.' Ha! Little did I know. I joked with my wife. She said, 'Maybe you should make a romantic comedy.' I said, 'I'm afraid to. I think everybody would die.'"

With The Road Back ready for release, Armstrong finally came clean last year after being accused by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency of doping and trafficking in drugs. Turns out he'd bullied other cycling athletes to take performance-enhancing drugs, and oversaw international deliveries of same (while effectively destroying the careers of anyone who tried to call him out).

As Gibney notes in The Armstrong Lie, Armstrong "didn't beat the system, he WAS the system.

"He was so much bigger than the sport. He was the guy who was the straw that stirred the drink. So when you have that power, it's hugely distorting."

Gibney was angry. "It's not like people haven't lied to me before. I didn't just fall off the turnip truck. But what p--sed me off was I felt like I was being used as part of a promotion plan."

So he dusted the project off and re-contacted Armstrong, who didn't apologize so much for lying as for failing to deliver the myth.

"But I do think over time, the lie became a challenge for him. He did it so baldly, so boldly, it was breathtaking. If you look back at him attacking people who he knows are telling the truth, he almost took a perverse pleasure in that.

"Not unlike Julian Assange or Eliot Spitzer, he was overcome by what police call, 'noble cause corruption.' I think he felt he'd delivered the perfect myth. He had a cancer foundation that was raising hundreds of millions of dollars and that gave him a sense of higher purpose that allowed him to believe that he was entitled to lie.

"A lot of people lied about doping on his behalf. The more problematic part of the Armstrong lie to me is he made all these cancer survivors around the world complicit in a very elaborate cover-up."

And, of course, "it did make for a more interesting story. I started out making a film about Superman, and it turned out to be about Batman."

Source: torontosun.com

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