Julia Roberts reveals she embraced Sean Penn for a ‘long time’ after filming fight scene for Gaslit

Julia Roberts has revealed that she and her co-star Sean Penn hugged in complete silence after filming a ‘challenging’ fight scene for their new political thriller Gaslit.

The actress, 54, said she has been close friends with the Academy Award winner, 61, for years and they have always wanted to work together, having met when she was 16 or 17 years old.

And they managed to do just that starring as real-life married couple Martha Mitchell and John Michell, Richard Nixon’s attorney general and friend, in Gaslit. The couple split up in 1973 amid the Watergate scandal.

Tense: Julia Roberts has revealed that she and her co-star Sean Penn hugged for a ‘really long time’ after filming a ‘challenging’ fight scene for their new thriller Gaslit

But Julia spoke to Good Morning Britain about the difficulties of filming some of the tense and emotional scenes in the series, admitting she and Sean embraced for a long time after filming a ‘challenging’ argument scene.

A clip from the tense scene shows John slapping his wife across the face, before Martha retaliates and hits John, with Julia saying their friendship made it hard to film such moments.

She explained: ‘It made it challenging to portray the more vibrant scenes of her, because I knew what was coming.

‘Certainly, the day that we did that fight scene, when it was over, Sean and I just hugged for a really long time. We didn’t even talk to each other. We were just hugging.

Couple: They star as married couple Martha Mitchell and John Michell, Richard Nixon's attorney general and friend, in Gaslit.  The couple split up in 1973

Couple: They star as married couple Martha Mitchell and John Michell, Richard Nixon’s attorney general and friend, in Gaslit. The couple split up in 1973

‘I think we both felt how tragic this relationship was and it was really too bad. Nixon destroyed so many lives, not least the life that was this couple’s relationship, he was the ruin of it. ‘

The new series marks the 50th anniversary of the Watergate scandal and is said to be ‘a modern take on Watergate that focuses on the untold stories and forgotten characters of the scandal’.

Julia plays Martha Mitchell, the wife of Richard Nixon’s attorney general John Mitchell, who was the first person to ‘publicly sound the alarm on Nixon’s involvement’ in the Watergate scandal.

While past films and TV series have mostly zeroed in on the men involved in the story – from Nixon himself to journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein – the new show, premiering April 24, spotlights Martha’s role in the drama.

Martha was kidnapped by men under President Nixon’s orders in an attempt to keep her from blowing the whistle his organization, the Committee to Re-elect the President or CRP.

Pals: The actress, 54, said she has been close friends with the Academy Award winner, 61, for years and they have always wanted to work together, having met when she was 16 or 17

Pals: The actress, 54, said she has been close friends with the Academy Award winner, 61, for years and they have always wanted to work together, having met when she was 16 or 17

Hard: Julia spoke about the difficulties of filming some of the emotional scenes in the political thriller, admitting she and Sean embraced for a long time after filming a fight scene

Hard: Julia spoke about the difficulties of filming some of the emotional scenes in the political thriller, admitting she and Sean embraced for a long time after filming a fight scene

Elsewhere in the interview, the Pretty Woman star also gushed over her close pal Sean as she described him as ‘one of the great American actors of all time’ as she spoke about starring as his on-screen wife.

She said: ‘Sean is just one of the great American actors of all time and he happens to be a very good friend, and I think we’ve always hoped that we would find something to do together.

‘For it to be ultimately the Mitchells is kind of amazing because we both truly believed that this relationship was so heartbreaking.’

Martha Mitchell, nicknamed the ‘Mouth of the South’ for her outspokenness with the press, was a controversial but generally well-liked figure until, in June 1972, she suspected that Nixon and his re-election committee were responsible for the Watergate break- in.

Not one to keep quiet, she complained to the press, resulting in her getting painted as crazy and a drunk by White House officials – and, in one horrific weekend, being held as a ‘political’ prisoner in a hotel room, where she was reportedly beaten and drugged.

A look back: Julia plays Martha Mitchell, the wife of John Mitchell, who was the first person to 'publicly sound the alarm on Nixon's involvement' in the Watergate scandal

Who Julia is playing: Martha Mitchell pictured at the Colonnade Hotel in Boston on March 5, 1975

A look back: Julia plays Martha Mitchell, the wife of John Mitchell, who was the first person to ‘publicly sound the alarm on Nixon’s involvement’ in the Watergate scandal

In March 1972, her husband resigned as Attorney General to head the Committee to Re-elect the President (officially abbreviated CRP, but often referred to as CREEP) for the 1972 campaign.

In March 1973, she told The New York Times that she thought somebody was trying to make her husband ‘the goat’ for Watergate, and she would ‘not going to let that happen,’ saying that Nixon was to blame.

‘Mr. President should resign immediately, ‘she told UPI in May 1973.

Martha wasn’t pleased that her husband had Nixon’s back.

She told Helen Thomas, ‘I love him very much. He loves me because I’ve stood up for him. But he is defending the president, who planned the whole god-damned thing. I’m under surveillance day and night. I’m no fool. ‘

Her husband would be found guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury in relation to Watergate and serve 19 months in prison.

Unrecognizable: The actor in character for Gaslit

Pictured: United States Attorney General John N Mitchell (1913 - 1988) photographed in 1971

Transformation: Sean Penn spent hours in the make-up chair to transform into character, looking almost unrecognisable as John Mitchell

Martha never got to be truly vindicated in the press. Just a year later, she was diagnosed with an advanced stage of multiple myeloma, and she died at age 57 on May 31, 1976.

Julia is bringing Martha back to life as she embodies her for a new series, while the trailer begins with Martha being introduced as cameras are flashed.

A man says, ‘You are the first person to publicly accuse the President for the Watergate break-in. Are you crazy? ‘

She responds, ‘I’m a Southern woman. We speak our minds, we talk. I never stop talking, ‘when the interviewer says,’ I bet your husband loves that, ‘and she says, without missing a beat,’ He takes it in stride. ‘

The trailer, released in February, features more shots of both Margaret and John, with a graphic that reads, ‘Based on the insane but shockingly true story.

True story: Martha was kidnapped by men under President Nixon's orders in an attempt to keep her from blowing the whistle his organization, the committee to re-elect the President or CRP

True story: Martha was kidnapped by men under President Nixon’s orders in an attempt to keep her from blowing the whistle his organization, the committee to re-elect the President or CRP

She responds, ‘I’m a Southern woman. We speak our minds, we talk. I never stop talking, ‘when the interviewer says,’ I bet your husband loves that, ‘and she says, without missing a beat,’ He takes it in stride. ‘

The trailer features more shots of both Margaret and John, with a graphic that reads, ‘based on the insane but shockingly true story.’

G. Gordon Liddy (Shea Whigham) says, ‘That loudmouth wife of his is becoming too much of a liability,’ as John tells Martha, ‘Do you want to know the truth? There is no conspiracy hiding in the shadows. ‘

While he says that, we see someone putting a bug in Martha’s phone and a man literally stepping out of the shadows to confront Martha while she’s on the phone.

Another man tells her that, ‘a lot of women your age suffer from paranoid episodes’ while she’s seen struggling with two other men who are trying to inject her with something and ultimately throw her through a glass table.

New trailer: The Watergate scandal gets a whole new perspective in the first trailer for the upcoming Starz series Gaslit, starring Julia Roberts

New trailer: The Watergate scandal gets a whole new perspective in the first trailer for the upcoming Starz series Gaslit, starring Julia Roberts

The trailer winds down with shots of the other cast members such as Stevens as White House Counsel John Dean, Gilpin as his wife Mo Dean and Whigham as Liddy, the chief operative of Nixon’s White House Plumbers spy unit.

A number of other dramatic shots are shown before John Mitchell tells Margaret, ‘nobody gives a damn what you think.’

The final shot of the trailer shows Margaret in front of some sort of panel where a man asks her, ‘Why risk your husband’s position?’

‘Because it’s the truth,’ she says, as the trailer comes to an end.

Good Morning Britain weekdays from 6am on ITV and ITV Hub.

Support: Julia gushed over her close pal Sean as she described him as 'one of the great American actors of all time' as she spoke about starring as his on-screen wife

Support: Julia gushed over her close pal Sean as she described him as ‘one of the great American actors of all time’ as she spoke about starring as his on-screen wife

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