"We tried not to be too on the money with any of the characters because we didn't want to fall into that sort of trap," he says.
Still, Meryl Streep's performance as Schreiber's mother, Ellie Shaw, a powerhouse senator who plots her son's political career, seems modeled, right down to the pantsuits, on Hillary Rodham Clinton.
"I'm a bit of a news junkie, so I can draw from many sources," Streep says, not wanting to say which women might have influenced the role.
"I just love the way Ellie Shaw is described in the screenplay — 'ageless with soft curves that conceal razor claws and a titanium backbone,' " she says. "How could I possibly not relish portraying a juicy character like that?"
Angela Lansbury, who played the scheming mom in the original, apparently was less thrilled with the idea of a remake. "I have great admiration for Meryl Streep," Lansbury told columnist Liz Smith. "She'll probably be very interesting. I just wish she hadn't chosen to do it."
Streep, however, is confident that if Lansbury sees the new film, she'll be happy to see how different the two roles are. "I think she'll like what we did," she says.
When Streep revisited the original, it was more than the political intrigue that had her on the edge of her seat. When Lansbury appeared in the film, she was 38, less than three years older than Laurence Harvey, the actor playing her son.
"None of the men making the movie at the time thought that was odd, two people the same age playing mother and son," Streep says. "It's because a woman that age was considered old."
Now, at 55, Streep accepts that some of her roles will be revived. Will she stand for a second "Sophie's Choice"? Will she even have a choice?
"I guess all you can hope for is they do a good job," she says.
Perhaps some movies shouldn't be remade. "They should never redo 'Silence of the Lambs'," Demme says. "What if it's better? I'd be so humiliated."