The Gun Lobby Goes to Hollywood In Gender Stereotype-Breaking Political Thriller 'Miss Sloane'

A lifelong Republican lobbyist crosses the aisle to pass a gun control bill in John Madden's Miss Sloane. What could go wrong?


"Lobbying is about foresight,” Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain says in the film.

Chastain plays the title character, Elizabeth Sloane, who's first seen in the film rehearsing her court testimony with her lawyer. According to Sloane, the key to lobbying is always being one step ahead of your opponent.

"It’s about making sure you surprise them, and they don’t surprise you," she tells him. 

Ironically, the biggest surprise might have been the election; the film was released three weeks later.

If Hillary Clinton had won, a film about a powerful Washington woman would have taken on a very different meaning. Now, on the heels of a Trump presidency, it's become an allusion to congressional Democrats' battle. 

In the film, Miss Sloane is called by the firm's management to spearhead an initiative targeting women—a campaign that presents handguns to female customers as instruments of “female empowerment.” But instead of offering up an icy defense, typical of her character, she laughs in their faces. 

“My position solidified somewhere between Columbine and Charleston,” the anti-gun advocate tells her boss (Sam Waterston) when asked about her hesitation to work on the campaign. 

“Any headcase, felon or terrorist can buy an assault rifle from a gun show, the internet, or his buddy at the Bowl-O-Rama without so much as an ID,” Sloane adds. 

She's right. Current federal law does not require private individuals to undergo background checks on guns. While licensed dealers must conduct background checks, this "gun show loophole" leaves the issue up to the states, where policies vary widely.

However, despite her opposing views on guns, Sloane continues to work for the firm until she is recruited by Rodolfo Schmidt (Mark Strong), who persuades her to help push his own firm's gun control bill, which involves firearm regulations. 

"She will do anything—anything—to win," Roger Ebert movie reviewer Sheila O'Malley noted. "Her colleagues are thrown under the bus, used, lied to, betrayed. This aspect of the story is refreshing."

Before Miss Sloane was shot, the lead actress went through a rigorous process preparing for the role.

"I had started by reading Jack Abramoff’s book, the lobbyist who ended up in jail," Chastain told Awards Daily in an interview. "I was completely shocked to find out how much money is in lobbying."

Chastain took a tour of the Hill and met the women behind the scenes of the industry, learning that "less than ten percent of lobbyists in DC are women," she said. 

An ardent Clinton supporter, Chastain applauded the Democratic nominee for her own gun control plans. 

"The main criticism about Hillary Clinton after the first debate was that she was over-prepared," Chastain noted. "You don’t hear that about men."

Despite being a deeply flawed character, the actress believes Miss Sloane opens the door for opportunity. 

"Hopefully, young women will watch Elizabeth Sloane and go, 'I can ask for a pay rise,' and 'I can ask for a promotion.' It’s all right to be good at my job."

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