The Rock Writer Talks That Iraq War Report

One of the strangest stories of recent weeks was that of The Chilcot Inquiry, the results of a seven-year investigation the U.K.’s role in the U.S.-led Iraq War of 2003. The conclusions drawn in a 2.6 million-word report spoke of massive intelligence failures within the British Secret Service, but it was one particular passage that caught people’s attention.

Namely an unnamed source used elements from the plot of Michael Bay’s 1996 action-thriller “The Rock” and feed them to British intelligence as fact. It was surprising news, most of all to the film’s co-writer David Weisberg who was e-mailed about the story by a a friend from National Geographic magazine.

THR spoke with Weisberg, who co-wrote the film’s script with the late Douglas S. Cook, and the writer admitted he “had no idea” this had happened and that it “boggles the mind”. He and his co-writer did research and talked with a chemical weapons expert back in the 1990s and said the actual VX consists of two “inert, colorless, odorless substances” which are kept in separate chambers until detonation.

That makes it “very, very boring… film is a visual medium, and there’s nothing visual about a substance that is colorless.” As a result they came up with the idea of not only making it a green single substance but also the ‘string of pearls’ containment chambers which created much of the suspense surrounding the substance:

“We invented this whole string of glass pearls concept, invented out of whole cloth, because it gave us these little round globules with green in them that you could see and be frightened of. And when one of those globules threatened to break, that’s when the bad stuff would happen. But it’s totally invented. What staggers me is whoever was debriefing this source didn’t take that information to the nearest chemical weapons expert, who immediately would have debunked it as bulls–t because it’s made up.”

The Chilcot Inquiry indicates one recipient of the report did highlight similarities to the film, but by the time the source had been debunked the Iraq War was in full swing.