'Spotlight' Actors Earn Rave Reviews From Their Real-Life Counterparts

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“Spotlight” cast: (L-R) Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery and Brian d’Arcy James.

The Oscar race may still be months away, but buzz is already building about “Spotlight,” the star-studded drama about a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting team that uncovered and exposed a widespread sexual abuse scandal covered up by the Catholic Church in 2002.

Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, Brian d’Arcy James and Liev Schreiber play four of The Boston Globe journalists who investigated the controversial story in this harrowing film that Entertainment Weekly is already calling “the very definition of an ensemble piece.”

Here, some of the real-life journalist portrayed in “Spotlight” weigh in on how the Hollywood actors played them on the big screen.

Rachel McAdams/ Sacha Pfeiffer

Boston Globe reporter Sacha Pfeiffer (L) and actress Rachel McCadams
Boston Globe reporter Sacha Pfeiffer (L) and actress Rachel McAdams
Susan Chalifoux/Globe Staff Photo

Pfeiffer has been a working journalist for decades, but she’s the first to admit she’d rather ask questions than answer them. “Rachel McAdams wanted to know not just what I wore but, ‘What do you like to eat and how often do you have dinner with your husband?’” she says. “It was a little unsettling. I thought, ‘Oh, our personal lives are going to be portrayed in this movie.’ I think it was a good experience to turn the tables and make us realize what it’s like for the people we do it to routinely.”

Mark Ruffalo/ Michael Rezendes

Boston Globe reporter Michael Rezendes (L) and actor Mark Ruffalo Susan Chalifoux/Globe Staff Photo
Boston Globe reporter Michael Rezendes (L) and actor Mark Ruffalo
Susan Chalifoux/Globe Staff Photo

Rezendes, on the other hand, compared the actor’s in-depth interviews to karma or, at the very least, poetic justice. “Mark Ruffalo came to my house and the very first thing he did was open up a notebook and start asking me questions,” he remembers. “The second thing he did was turn on his iPhone. He videoed my coffee table and the books on my bookshelf. At first, I was a little bit stunned. Then I thought about all of the times I have done this and I thought, ‘This is justice. I deserve this.’”

Brian d’Arcy James/Matty Carroll

Boston Globe reporter Matt Carroll (L) and actor Brian d'Arcy James Susan Chalifoux/Globe Staff Photo
Boston Globe reporter Matt Carroll (L) and actor Brian d’Arcy James
Susan Chalifoux/Globe Staff Photo

“Spotlight” is already earning rave reviews from Carroll, who describes d’Arcy James’ portrayal of him as spot-on. “The attention to detail is amazing,” he says. “He’s got his glasses on a string and a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee on my desk through the whole movie. Lots of stuff nobody is going to notice but me, really. It was really cool to see how hard they worked.”

Michael Keaton/ Walter “Robby” Robinson

Boston Globe reporter Walter Robbinson (L) and actor Michael KeatonCourtesy of Boston Globe
Boston Globe reporter Walter Robinson (L) and actor Michael Keaton
Courtesy of Boston Globe

Robinson couldn’t have been happier to discover that Batman was playing him on the big screen. Keaton played The Dark Knight of Gotham in 1989’s Tim Burton-directed hit. “Really, I was delighted,” he says. “When I met him in New York for the first time, we were 30 seconds into our conversation when he said, almost in relief, ‘You really don’t have much of a Boston accent,” because actors hate to do Boston accents. I said, ‘How did you know that?’ It turned out he had watched every videotape I’d ever been on of CNN or MSNBC or NPR so he had my voice down. He had my mannerisms down. I think these actors, it’s pretty amazing for them to play real people.They took full advantage of it.”

“Spotlight” opens Nov. 6. Watch the trailer below.

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