"With the nation's eye focused on a presidential election this year," Demme says, "I couldn't think of a better time to address darker themes about the political process and the forces that try to undermine it." Bush haters are sure to think of this film as The Halliburton Candidate, and Demme laughs at the notion.
"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."
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 Clinton.
"I'm a bit of a news junkie, so I can draw from many sources," she 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?"
Lansbury 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, was confident that once she saw the film, she'd be happy to learn that 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. Lansbury's character 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," she 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."