Aaron Sorkin talks about adapting 'To Kill A Mockingbird' for Broadway

The director shares how he adapted the American classic for the stage and how he keeps in touch with "The West Wing" cast.
7:41 | 12/10/18

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Transcript for Aaron Sorkin talks about adapting 'To Kill A Mockingbird' for Broadway
The man behind Oscar and Emmy winning works like "The social network, and "The west wing" has adapted an American classic for the Broadway stage that's as relevant today as it was when it was first written, Harper Lee's historic novel "To kill a mocking bird." Please welcome Aaron Sorkin. Thank you so much for being here. My pleasure. It's very -- I loved the play. I just told you that at the break. I went to see it and it's phenomenal. But it's a very interesting time now in this country. We were just talking to Michael Bloomberg about it, and you've written a few political dramas in your day. What's your take on everything that's going on in the white house? Is this giving you even more material to work with? Well, you know, there's what's going on in the white house and there's what's going on with all of us in the country. One of the things that happens in the play is that Atticus sort of wakes up to the fact that he didn't really know who his friends and neighbors were. I think that a lot of us anywhere on the idealogical spectrum have felt the same way for the last two years, that we kind of woke up saying I had no idea that they -- whoever they is for you -- felt that way. That's so true. Sometimes to call myself I will pull up old episodes of "The west wing." You can really watch it at any time. Thanks. "The west wing", again, no matter where you are on the idealogical spectrum, it was about a group of hyper confident people who were dedicated to public service and they were going to slip on banana peels a lot and lose as much as they won but you knew for sure that when they got up in the morning they cared about you. Is there going to be -- On Netflix? I didn't want to do a plug but yeah. You can tell us this, is there going to be a reboot? I think people have been aching for that. Sterling K. Brown, there were rumors that he would be happy to do it. And god knows we would be happy to have him. The cast and I, we have dinner once every three months or so and we -- it's something we'd love to do but we're also very protective of the memory of the show. I don't want it to be a kind of Brady bunch reunion, so if I can get a good idea which is something that doesn't happen very often, then I'll do it. Otherwise, it will just have to stay off. It's not a no? I'm not slamming the door on it. One hot topic that cons lie comes up is Facebook. They've been under fire for lobbying against George Soros, covering up elect scandals. You wrote an episode about CEO mark zukerberg got in over his head. Did you see any of this coming? I don't think anyone could have seen that coming. I know more about Facebook in 2005 than I do in 2018 and I read the paper like anybody else. Mark, talk about being in over his head, it just seems like the water keeps climbing no matter how far his nose gets to the surface. But there's definitely an interesting movie in what you just described. Let's talk about "To kill a mocking bird." You call this project a suicide mission for yourself. Why do you say that? "To kill a mocking bird" is one of the most beloved novels in American literature. In fact, last month pbs viewers voted it the most beloved novel. What could I do but make it less than what it was. So knowing that on any given night most people in the audience will either have read the book or seen the movie or both, I was nervous going into it but then at some point you just have to make the decision I'm not going to swaddle the book in bubble wrap and gently transfer it to a stage. That's not what theatre is for. This play is not an exercise in nostalgia. This is a new play that takes a new look at "To kill a mocking bird." Nor did I pretend that I was writing it in 1960 when Harper Lee wrote it. I was writing it today. How would she feel, do you think? I've been asked that question before. The last thing she did before she passed awa approve me as the playwright. Wonderful. So that's nice. That said, you mentioned "The west wing." I wrote the first four seasons before I had to leave the show. The first time I saw an episode of "The west wing" not written by me, I needed cpr. So I imagine that a stranger making new words come out of the mouths of her beloved characters would not thrill her but what I hope is that she would understand that the playwright had a deep love and respect for her novel. The thing is things have changed in 58 years. It's time to take a new look at Atticus when most of us, we were taught the book in middle school and we were taught that Atticus' tolerance, his idea that goodness can be found in everyone and all you have to do is crawl around in someone else's skin and you'll get to know them, that that was a virtue. In the book, in the movie, Atticus has the answers. In the play he struggles with these questions, is being tolerant of intolerance a virtue. I thought that the play really stayed true to the spirit of the book. In fact, this book was mandatory reading for me when I first went to law school. It was on our reading list at notre dame. What's striking when you're watching the play is how relevant the story feels in 2018. You've got a small town lawyer in the deep south defending an innocent black man against a white woman's rape allegationsment. Right. You say were you influenced by charlottesville. Yeah. Here's how. In going back and looking at the book again and realizing that Atticus insists on others being understood, that you have to understand bobule who was a member of the clan, as a guy who just lost his job so that's going to make him feel small. You have to understand Mrs. Debose, a horrible racist, a woman who recently stopped taking her medication and that's why she's like that. You have to understand the 12 jurors who sit in judgment over Tom Robinson as to who they are. It started to sound an awful lot to me like there were fine people on both sides. Now, in the case of Atticus finch, that is coming from a good place. He means well. He's wrong but he means well. In the case of the person who actually said it, I can't say the same thing. But the play takes a harder look at whether or not Atticus is right. Some people are just racist. They are. True. People are just racist and there's no two sides to the story. I really hope that people will go see this play because it's fantastic. Thanks to Aaron Sorkin. Thanks so much. "To kill a mocking bird" is

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

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