Moviemaker Oliver Stone had a birthday surprise in New York on Wednesday night (14Sep16) when exiled whistleblower Edward Snowden made an appearance via satellite from Russia.
The director was joined by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays Snowden in the biopic, and actress Shailene Woodley, and appeared a little shocked when Edward himself was beamed onto the gigantic movie screen at the Fathom Events screening.
Snowden took part in an audience question and answer session and told film fans the weather in Moscow, where he has been living in exile following the release of classified National Security Agency documents, is "much better than I expected".
He added, "The winter time is really harsh but the summers are really nice. For somebody who came up in the whole CIA/NSA background, whenever you picture Russia in the back of your head it's this frozen icy wasteland. And it's not always like that!"
During the Q&A, Gordon-Levitt, who presented his director with a birthday cake, revealed he enjoyed meeting Snowden's parents at the film's New York premiere on Tuesday night (13Sep16).
"I had not had a chance to meet them before," he said, adding, "I don't know if I've ever had as fulfilling an experience as an actor to get feedback like that. As an actor you want approval from your director, approval from your audience, but when you play a real person and then their real mother and father come up to you and say, 'Thanks... I saw my son in what you were doing', and, 'Thank you for doing this...'
"His dad really made a point of looking me in the eye and saying thanks. I've never experienced anything like that as an actor, that kind of positive feedback; his grandparents (were there) as well. That was very special."
Snowden then congratulated birthday boy Stone for representing him well in the film, admitting he's "never been much of a Hollywood type".
"I'm not really a film goer, I'm an indoor cat," he told amused audience members, "so Oliver was a clean slate. The thing about him is how consumed he is; he never stops thinking and that's a little infectious. But it's one of those things, particularly for a very private person, this never can feel right. But the amount of care that went into it in respect to the crew, the director... is reassuring because even if it's not 'you', the story represents what I believe and my values and it was close enough that my family liked it."