In 'Molly's Game,' how Olympic hopeful became high-stakes poker princess

Aaron Sorkin wrote and directed the film starring actress Jessica Chastain, which tells the unbelievable true story of Molly Bloom's life.
6:10 | 01/05/18

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Transcript for In 'Molly's Game,' how Olympic hopeful became high-stakes poker princess
We saw athletes, billionaires, that's the tip of the iceberg. Reporter: Where some of the richest, most powerful men in New York and Hollywood came to play. Poker isn't a game of chance, poker is a game of skill. Reporter: Gambling millions in a secretive high-stakes poker game. And pulling the strings? Molly bloom. Played by Jessica Chastain in the new movie "Molly's game." I'm Molly bloom. Do you know about me? Poker is a lot about power, intimidation, manipulation. Reporter: The movie tells the unlikely story of a brilliant olympic hopeful bound for Harvard law school who ended up heading an illicit gambling operation. You can't believe that it's a true story, you think it's something Hollywood made up. It reads like fiction. Absolutely, reality's stranger than fiction. Reporter: Molly bloom's transformation into the poker princess began after an accident derailed her skiing career, prompting her to move to los Angeles. I talked to Molly to get the real story. My role was to bring these guys drinks. Then within a year I became the owner/operator of the game. Reporter: A seat at her poker table for the legal game became one of the hottest tickets in town. Attracting, she says, players like Leonardo Dicaprio. Ben Affleck. Tobey Maguire. The players in the movie are fictional, composite characters. A creative decision made by the movie's writer and director, Aaron Sorkin. You peeled back the curtain on this inner sanctum of secret Hollywood power. It's not a pretty sight. It's not. Just to be clear, in peeling back the curtain, I don't dish on anyone. I wouldn't want to under any circumstances. Reporter: Already celebrated in Hollywood for creating "The west wing" -- I can sensitivic duty a mile away. Reporter: And writing the screenplay for "The social network." Welcome to Facebook. Reporter: This is his directorial debut. I like heros who don't wear a cape, don't have super powers. Reporter: Bloom fit the bill. She says for her layers the lure wasn't the money. They wanted experiences. They wanted to feel. I'll be hosting a game in this suite every Tuesday night. If you play tonight, you'll be guaranteed a chair for a year. Reporter: By making her game the ultimate boys' club, bloom says she was earning up to $4 million a year at the height of her success. All legally. I got an education on business, the art world, finance. But then I also got the other side of that, which is listening to the way men talk about women. In what way? You know, there are nights where there was -- there was a lot of -- just sort of degradation or disrespect. It's hard to hear. Molly had to navigate a world of very powerful men. And any time one of these powerful men felt that Molly wasn't sufficiently in awe of their power, they would ruin her. I'm going to stop paying you. What do you mean? As my assistant. Reporter: In the movie, bloom's success presented a threat to the men she worked with. You're going to stop paying me because I'm making too much money doing my second job,fy say no I'll lose both jobs? Because it's@ bad right now. Reporter: Twice penalized for being too god at her job. My money -- Your money is my money. Is it? Reporter: She also ran afoul of the mob. Graphically depicted in the movie. And eventually arrested, indicted for running an illegal poker game, after skimming the pot for profit. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year of probation. I was sort of profiting from it and figuring it out and taking these callated risks, going up against the billionaire boys' club. Then it became about something else, it became about the money and the greed. Reporter: These mistakes and what she learned from them part of what drew Sorkin and Chastain to bloom's story. You know, Molly has this quality of no matter how many times she fails, no matter how many mistakes she makes, and falls down, she's constantly getting back up. Reporter: "Molly's game" is being released as the cultural tidal wave of the "Me too" movement is sweeping Hollywood and beyond. What's your response to what has happened since? The fact that women are coming together and saying, okay, we are not going to be silent about the injustices that we face anymore. Reporter: Chastain, a advocating for payee quality. Every industry where one demographic is in charge of the livelihood of the minority, there's going to be abuses of power. Reporter: Proudly taking part at the women's March last year, unabashedly speaking out. If I don't use my platform to amplify the voices of those who have suffered, of those who don't have a platform as big as mine, then I don't know how you go on each day. Reporter: Sorkin isn't shy about speaking out either. If you were to do a "West wing" in the trump administration, what would that look like? It would look like dead air. I wouldn't do it. Because I don't find him to be a terribly interesting character. He is exactly what he looks like. There's no subtext? There's no subtext, there's no nuance. He only ever talks about two things. Himself and his enemies. And that's it. And it's a character that you wouldn't believe the character. Reporter: Chastain's performance, so believable she was just nominated for her fifth golden globe. I understand your reaction was a little almost surprised? Especially after what we just talked about. With the idea of coming forward and speaking up. I'm allowed to have a voice. I'm allowed to do what I can to create a healthy environment for all of us. And I can still work. You're not going to be punished for having an opinion? Yeah. A woman is allowed to have an opinion and have a livelihood. Reporter: For "Nightline," I'm juju Chang in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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