Entertainment & Arts

Frost/Nixon team pay tribute to Sir David Frost

Peter Morgan, Sir David Frost and Ron Howard

Sir David Frost's 1977 interviews with former US President Richard Nixon were brought back into focus with the film Frost/Nixon, directed by Ron Howard and based on the play by Peter Morgan.

On screen Sir David was portrayed by British actor Michael Sheen, while Nixon was played by American Frank Langella.

Here Morgan and Howard pay tribute to the man who inspired their Oscar-nominated film.

Ron Howard

"I was not able to develop a significant relationship but I had several opportunities to sit down and talk to him, where at a couple of those lunches he would leave you with a joke. You would be on your way out of the door and he would stop you and say 'wait' and tell a hilarious joke. He just wanted to leave you with a laugh.

"I found him fascinating to be around. It is a highlight for me that when we had finished the movie he wanted to interview me, because I had grown up respecting him and his interviews.

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a television producer with vision. I loved that when faced with an obstacle he would tirelessly work his way around it, under it, over it, you could not stop him.

Image caption Frank Langella portrayed Nixon while Michael Sheen played Frost

"I just respected that commitment you got. Call it hubris, I think there was something almost of the entrepreneur spirit that as an American I really admired about him. He would damn the critics and carry on if he had a big idea that he cared about. He proved that with the Nixon interviews.

"He absolutely paved the way for a new network, a fourth network in the US. When he was rejected by every network in the US he got together a bunch of independents, which was something nobody had really done before. He managed to publicise and eventise it and made it a huge ratings getter. He basically signalled to the TV business that there was room for another network, and he turned out to be right, it was Fox, and then there were more after that.

"One of the highlights was getting to know him and I'm sad for his family."

Peter Morgan

"An amazing career and a man who lived a very full life and achieved extraordinary things.

"I feel I'm responsible for what was at the time one of his lesser known achievements which has now, sadly, probably eclipsed some of his better achievements because life is so reductive. I notice on the BBC News website it has got a picture of the Nixon interviews.

"It was great fun to collaborate with him, to write about him. He showed unfailing generosity and his was a remarkable career.

"He started out as a satirist and iconoclast and ended up a real pillar of the establishment. He made that transition with grace and good humour and remained to the very end a piercing intellect.

"He was thoroughly good company and I think much underestimated and underrated by a whole generation of his colleagues at Cambridge, for whom his success was probably too conspicuous and too meteoric to be acceptably British."

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