comic con 2016

Here’s What the Real Edward Snowden Thought of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Snowdenvoice in Snowden

Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

While hordes of adult humans co-splaying their favorite characters doesn’t exactly scream “sophisticated political discussions” — and I’m not even talking about Cleveland! Hey-o! —  Oliver Stone’s Snowden has been doing its best to bring a bit of ripped-from-the-headlines severity to this year’s Comic-Con.

Early Thursday, Stone declared Pokémon Go “totalitarianism” during the film’s Hall H panel, because it’s a law at this year’s convention that every poor, unsuspecting person in attendance must be asked about Pokémon Go. (You literally can’t walk more than six feet without bumping into someone who’s playing it.) But that night, the stakes were raised when, following a screening of Snowden for a small audience, the real Edward Snowden beamed in from his ongoing exile in Moscow to join a Q&A with Stone and the movie’s stars: Shailene Woodley, who plays Snowden’s girlfriend Lindsey Mills; and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays Snowden himself.

“You’ve got to remember — the FBI actually gets a copy of this talk, because we’re going through Google Hangouts, which has a sort of built-in surveillance capability,” Snowden said, nicely setting the mood for an appearance that was happening as Donald Trump took the stage at the Republican National Convention. Among other things, the charming Snowden commented on his faith in Stone’s portrayal of his story, which he attributed to the filmmaker’s independence and ability to think for himself, and on how actors could function as champions of the public good, presenting a narrative in a far more accessible way than grand-jury testimony and wonky journalism.

But eventually, the Q&A got down to brass tacks: What did Snowden think of the husky baritone that Gordon-Levitt had used to portray him? JGL noticeably winced as the question was asked, but Snowden’s response was about as positive as he could’ve hoped for.

“This is one of the things that’s kind of crazy and surreal about this whole experience. I don’t think anybody looks forward to having a movie made about themselves, particularly someone who’s a privacy advocate,” Snowden said, earning a big laugh. “But what I can say is that some of my family members have said, ‘He sounds just like you!’ The voice in your head is never the same thing, but if he can pass the family test, he’s doing all right.”

Congratulations, Joe. Now let’s just hope it wasn’t so good that the government ever confuses the two of you.

The Real Snowden Judged JGL’s Snowdenvoice