Aaron Sorkin has written numerous biographical dramas over the past decade, including The Social Network, Moneyball, and Steve Jobs. In contrast, Sorkin, unlike many other screenwriters, tends to focus more on the dramatic arc of his subjects’ lives rather than the minutia of their lives. As far as we know, Mark Zuckerberg didn’t rise to fame harboring resentment over a bad breakup. In any event, that story point does serve as a memorable conclusion.
Sorkin, while being a first-time director, sticks close to Molly Bloom’s life in his current film, Molly’s Game (played by Jessica Chastain). Two clandestine games run by the so-called “Poker Princess” in the mid-2000s drew high-rolling Hollywood celebs, athletes, and mobsters. It’s no surprise that the film stays so true to Bloom’s memoir: Sorkin worked closely with her on the screenplay, which significantly draws from the book of the same name.
According to Bloom’s memoir, here is a breakdown of the film’s facts and fiction.
She Didn’t Have a Dramatic Skiing Fall.
During an Olympic qualification run in Molly’s Game, a young Molly skis over a twig that causes her to fall and injure her back, effectively ending her skiing career. Molly accuses this twig in a voiceover of altering her course in life, going from an athlete to a “poker princess.” However, in reality, no one ever fell.
Even though Bloom was an Olympic-caliber skier, she elected to retire from the sport rather than because of an injury. When Bloom was younger, she faced some physical challenges, including a back operation at age 12 that left her unable to ski competitively anymore. She returned to skiing a year later. While in college, she was selected to the United States ski team and placed third overall in the country’s competitions.
It wasn’t until she won a bronze medal in Rio that she decided to retire from the sport and pursue a new path in life, as she explains in her autobiography.
Her Dad Was Hard on Her.
Throughout her memoir, Bloom expresses deep affection for and gratitude to her father (played in the movie by Kevin Costner). He did, however, push his children to their physical and mental limitations. ‘Recreational’ was not a word we used in our household, she says. Every experience taught us to push ourselves to the maximum and be the best we could be.
Unlike in the film, Bloom does not discuss whether or not her father truly came to New York City to give her a pep talk about her trial because she wrote her book before she was condemned. There is little doubt that Sorkin would add that theatrical flourish.
She Did Start Her Career as a Waitress and Assistant.
He almost hit her with his car in Los Angeles when she first saw him in the movie. He noticed her uniform since she had recently left her work as a waitress. His restaurant immediately recruited her as a waitress, and she refers to him as Reardon Green in the novel. Bloom was eventually promoted to the position of assistant by the businessman.
He was not the nicest boss: “These are poor people bagels!” is a passage from her memoir, and it’s true, according to the movie’s script. The Viper Room is a bar he co-owns where he introduced her to the world of poker and the game. In the aftermath of his dismissal, she tapped into her newfound network of contacts to launch a new game of her own.
Celebrities, Including Ben Affleck and Tobey Maguire, Did Play in Molly’s Game.
The film’s screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin, did not name the famous players that attended Bloom’s game, but in her book, Bloom mentions Ben Affleck and Tobey Maguire. To keep other players from being revealed, she exclusively mentions those who have already been exposed in the media before the publication of her book.
In Bloom’s memoir, Maguire has the most prominent part, and it appears that Michael Cera’s character, “Player X,” bears some resemblance to him. The nameless actor is playing a superhero, and Sorkin even makes a tribute to Tobey Maguire, who portrayed Spider-Man.) After refusing Maguire’s $1,000 offer to bark like a seal, Bloom stormed out of there. A different player seized the game from her, not Maguire as depicted in the film. He joyously called to notify her that she had lost her weekly game, Bloom claims.
She was threatened with a gun by a member of the mobsters’ gang.
The most terrifying scene in the film is taken directly from Bloom’s book. The real Bloom became concerned about the safety of transporting that much cash between events and hired a driver. Her introduction to gangster “friends” came from this driver. One of the men did order an apple martini at the hotel lobby where Bloom met them.
They offered Bloom physical strength in exchange for a percentage of her income. She turned it down. After a few weeks, a stranger with a rifle knocked on her home. A gun was trapped in her mouth after she was shoved against the wall by him. Assaulted her of her money and valuables, insisting that he’d been dispatched by individuals she’d met at a hotel. Her family was threatened by him, and when she refused to accept his protection, he beat her severely.
It took Bloom a full week to recuperate from the bruising on her face and body. She agreed to another meeting with the mobsters after they phoned her. After reading in the newspaper that about 125 people had been detained in a major mob roundup, she was unable to speak with them in person. The men who had threatened her never contacted her again.
Her counsel was not Charlie Jaffey.
Idris Elba’s character, Charlie, looks to be a stand-in for Sorkin, who initially doubts Molly but then sees her as a hero. Charlie is a fictional character, though Bloom does use actual lawyers.
It would have been impossible for Bloom’s lawyer to establish an opinion on Bloom based on her book. Before meeting her for the first time in the film, Charlie reads her memoir. After her arrest but before her sentencing, she released the book.