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MK Ultra's Anson Mount On The Impact Director Joseph Sorrentino's Intelligence Background Had On The Film - Exclusive

Anson Mount is widely beloved for his role as U.S.S. Enterprise Captain Christopher Pike in "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds," but his newest role eschews the sci-fi landscape in favor of a real-world thriller set in the United States' dark past. In "MK Ultra," Mount plays Dr. Ford Strauss, a doctor who truly means well but who accepts a devil's bargain in working with the CIA on the fledgling and very illegal MK-Ultra project. The CIA is here accurately portrayed as the clandestine organization they have always been, but the issue with a clandestine organization is that it's hard to get a good look at its inner workings.

What really sells the realism of "MK Ultra," as explained by star Anson Mount in an exclusive interview with Looper, stems from the unique background of writer-director Joseph Sorrentino. While Sorrentino writes a well-constructed, suspenseful script, he actually has a background in the intelligence world, giving him unique insight into the perils and complexities of that often-opaque world. It's a depth of knowledge that makes for a believable tale of real-world terrors, and that authenticity has helped to land a realistic political thriller.

A script written with the confidence of experience

While Anson Mount is widely known now for genre roles like Captain Pike and as the Inhumans leader Black Bolt in the MCU, it's an interesting choice to pivot into science-heavy political thriller territory. When we asked him about the change and his attachment to the project, he first explained that he had "a lot of reasons." Mount noted, "Initially what grabbed me was the script, and it was clearly well-written and smartly written."

"It wasn't just great dialogue and great characters and all that," Mount clarified, "but the writer understood the importance of how much information you provide an audience." Suspense involves a tight control over information, neither too little (which creates confusion) nor too much, and surely finding the right balance set the "MK Ultra" script apart, though that wasn't all. "More importantly," Mount said, Joseph Sorrentino knew "how much information you don't provide an audience, to keep them leaning forward in their seats." Discovering a narrative that provided the proper balance made attaching to the project an easy decision for Mount.

"When I met with Joe [Sorrentino]," he continued, "I found out his background in intelligence, so that sense of authority I read in the script made a lot of sense." Despite the intelligence world's lack of transparency and propensity for subterfuge and misdirection, the script is written with steady confidence and an attention to detail that's rare among outsiders, so Sorrentino could give audiences an accurate window into that world. He knew the finer points of that complicated landscape, and the story became all the better for it.

"MK Ultra" is available in select theaters and on VOD.