When former intelligence contractor Reality Winner pleaded guilty back in 2018 for leaking an NSA report detailing Russian attempts to interfere with the US’s 2016 election, the Espionage Act made it impossible for her to argue that she was acting out of concern for the American public. Even though it isn’t spelled out, the thorniness of that catch-22 is palpable in the first teaser trailer for Reality, HBO’s upcoming drama about the whistleblower and her interrogation by the FBI.
Based on playwright Tina Sattler’s Is This A Room, which was based on transcripts of the FBI’s 2017 interrogation of Reality Winner, Reality — from Sattler and co-writer James Paul Dallas — tells the story of how Winner (Sydney Sweeney) ended up receiving the longest federal prison sentence for leaking information to the media in American history. Though the teaser’s short, its tense, tight focus on Sweeny’s Winner gives you a sense of how much of the movie’s going to be about trying to make you feel like what it might have been like in the interrogation room. As cordial as the unseen interrogator’s being with Winner, the trailer highlights how things like Winner’s journals and her long-held interest in Arabic became important pieces of the case the Justice Department built against her in its pursuit to imprison her.
It’s that clear Reality’s going to be rather sympathetic to Winner’s plight, but what’s going to be very interesting to see is whether Sweeney’s Winner is able to really keep you engaged as the FBI does everything in its power to break her resolve when Reality premieres on May 29th.