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October 15, 2012

Plagiarism Has Consequences in 'The Words'

by Alan Silverman

In The Words, an author steals another writer's work and then must face the consequences and his conscience in a new romantic drama starring Bradley Cooper. 


"Do you think you can just steal another man's life and expect there be no price to pay?"



The film tells the stories of three men whose connection is on the pages of a novel. Rory is the would-be author played by Bradley Cooper.

Cooper explains that the crisis of conscience begins with a fateful choice when Rory discovers a brilliant, unsigned manuscript.

​​"It is not like he set out to plagiarize at all. The only reason he downloads that onto his computer is because, as written [in the script], he wanted to feel what the words would be like washing over his fingers," Cooper explains. "It's not until his wife looks at him for the first time in the way that he wants her to look at him that he is seduced by that and is not man enough to say 'that is not me.'"

To Rory's shock, the actual author turns up after the book is published, and the old man forces the young writer to confront his choice.

 "I do have a story, a very good story. I know you get this line all the time, but I think you will like the story. It is about a man who wrote a book and then lost it …and the kid who found it."

Bradley Cooper (left) and Jeremy Irons in a scene from "The Words" (Photo courtesy CBS Films)
​​Oscar-winner Jeremy Irons plays the old man whose stolen manuscript was based on his experiences in Paris after WW II. British actor Ben Barnes plays the young man in the novel.

"I think regret is one of the saddest emotions it is possible to feel: the kind of pathos of the moment when he realizes what his life could have been," explains Barnes, "and he realizes, wholeheartedly, that the decisions that he's made with his life were the wrong ones. I can't imagine anything sadder than that."

"You have to choose between life and fiction. The two are very close, but they never actually touch."

Completing this triangle, Dennis Quaid plays Clay, yet another author who has written his own book about the stolen story.

"Being an actor, I was really attracted to the story of an artist who feels like a fraud. I think all of us feel like we're frauds sometimes," Quaid says.

The Words is co-directed by Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal from a script they wrote under the guidance of the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. The film features Zoe Saldana, French actress Nora Arnezeder and Irish-American Olivia Wilde as the loves and muses in the various characters' lives.