Aaron Sorkin, Mockingbird cover

A Very Different Atticus Finch Awaits Us in New ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Adaptation

In 2016, producer Scott Rudin acquired the stage rights to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and brought on veteran writer Aaron Sorkin to pen the script. Sorkin is a pretty busy guy, having just made his directorial debut with Molly’s Game. This story unsurprisingly got sidelined. But The New York Times announced its December 2018 Broadway premiere in a cartoonishly large ad.



Vulture asked Sorkin about his take on Mockingbird at the Toronto Film Festival last week, and he revealed some surprising tidbits. First, Sorkin isn’t strictly adhering to Lee’s book. He said, “As far as Atticus and his virtue goes, this is a different take on Mockingbird than Harper Lee’s or Horton Foote’s.”


Sorkin’s not necessarily adapting Lee’s book, but her story. His perspective will particularly affect Atticus Finch. Regarding this, Sorkin said:


He becomes Atticus Finch by the end of the play, and while he’s going along, he has a kind of running argument with Calpurnia, the housekeeper, which is a much bigger role in the play I just wrote. He is in denial about his neighbors and his friends and the world around him, that it is as racist as it is, that a Maycomb County jury could possibly put Tom Robinson in jail when it’s so obvious what happened here. He becomes an apologist for these people.


If this rings any civil rights bells, it’s because Sorkin isn’t shying away from contemporary race issues. Trump’s comments on Charlottesville particularly stand out to Sorkin. “All of a sudden, Donald Trump stood up at a news conference and said there are good people on both sides. And I went, ‘Wow, bingo. We hit it right in the middle.’”

Sorkin’s politics have always appeared onscreen, and, once upon a time, he was pretty optimistic. The West Wing was like any progressive’s dream state. Jed Bartlet, though. The Newsroom was also optimistic, though the writing seemed to have been motivated by a level of cynicism regarding the state of information. Hopefully Sorkin’s To Kill a Mockingbird will give us hope. One thing I hope for is a classic Sorkin walk-and-talk between Scout and Atticus.



Feature Images Via TVOvermind and Amazon