The Author of The Revenant Can’t Do Press for the Movie, Because He Has a Day Job Negotiating Global Trade Deals

Michael Punke. Photo: AFP/2013 AFP

The plot of The Revenant wasn't just cooked up in a lab by mad scientists intent on winning Leo that Oscar. No, it was, in fact based on a book. But you wouldn't know it, because the author of that book, Michael Punke, the deputy U.S. trade representative and U.S. ambassador to the World Trade Organization, can't do press about his now-famous novel  — mostly because his government position prohibits him from abusing his post or "self-enriching," and also because that government position keeps him busy negotiating trillion-dollar global trade deals. The New York Times tracked down Punke's story, which begins back when Warner Bros. nabbed the movie rights to his novel, which is based on the real-life Hugh Glass, before the book itself was published in 2002. The Revenant wasn't a hit, and Punke doubled down on his successful other career in diplomacy, though he kept writing books on the side, as one does. 

Now, due to the awards-season success of Alejandro Iñárritu's film, The Revenant is selling massively well, and Punke is caught off guard by the attention. When the film premiered in Hollywood in December, for instance, Punke was busy negotiating a $1.3 trillion deal in Nairobi. And when he went to Davos this year, the diplomat-author, was "frequently stopped by colleagues who wanted to take their picture with him." Still, Punke and his wife Traci have had some chances to bask in their newfound success in Tinsel Town. The pair got to go to the Golden Globes, where "Mr. Punke chatted with Mr. DiCaprio about buffalo," and they will also attend the Academy Awards tonight, though, as the Times points out, they will not be giving any interviews.