By Fiachra GIBBONS
Former “Saturday Night Live” star Jason Sudeikis has labelled the war on drugs “ludicrous” as he premiered a new movie about an FBI cocaine sting that brought down car designer John DeLorean.
The comedian-turned-actor plays the informer who set up the creator of the cult sports car immortalised in “Back to the Future” in a huge drug deal in the slick, tragicomic caper “Driven”.
One of DeLorean’s silver gull-winged cars even made it onto the red carpet as the film closed the Venice film festival late Saturday.
But Sudeikis and the film’s Northern Irish director Nick Hamm said DeLorean was as much a victim the “ludicrous” US government crusade against drugs as he was of his own greed.
Hamm said he “knew for a fact that the FBI needed (a high-profile scalp for) the front cover of Newsweek (magazine) at that time” to justifying their “ludicrous war on drugs.
“It’s still the way they do it, they need the publicity to keep the whole thing going,” he added.
The dashingly handsome DeLorean had major cash flow problems in 1982 after his Belfast-built car was beset by teething problems despite the British government pouring nearly $200 million (172 million euros) into the enterprise.
The movie shows how he got involved in the “skuzzy” cocaine deal set up with a neighbour in San Diego in an attempt to finance redesigning the car.
– ’10 percenters’ the problem –
A jury later acquitted him but by then his empire was in ruins, with DeLorean famously quipping after the trial, “Would you buy a used car from me?”
Sudeikis told reporters that the irony was that the war on drugs was still going on “even as marijuana is being legalised.
“Yet there are many black men of my age and older in jail for carrying a joint,” he said.
“Then you have people like the Sackler family that invented OxyContin” — which is blamed for the opioid addiction crisis in the US — “now trying to sell us an antidote,” Sudeikis said.
“Yeah, there is still a war on drugs going on but as long as the 10 percenters can make more money on people and their addictions… then it will continue going on, but it is a deeper problem unfortunately.”
“Driven”, written by Northern Irish novelist Colin Bateman, has earned actor Lee Pace his best reviews in years for playing DeLorean.
Hamm described the film as a “retro” bromance which was not afraid of being funny. “Sometimes serious subjects can be given a comedic twist,” he said.
The director said the shoot in Puerto Rico had to be halted by Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island last year, killing an estimated 1,100 people according to a new study.
Hamm said it was “an extraordinary thing in history” that US President Donald Trump “tried to belittle the tragedy”.
“We had a massive local crew, probably 400 or 500 people, that if we didnt go back wouldn’t get a paycheck” and who needed to repair and rebuild their homes, he said.
The director made a short documentary about the crisis warning that “climate change is already upon us. That hurricane was the size of Germany. The people there are already living with the consequences.
“You have to be a total retard or stupid to deny it is happening,” he added.