Aaron Sorkin

One of the biggest challenges in the past for me in working on the networks was that audiences have grown accustomed to television being something that keeps you company-background music, something that you have on while you’re flipping through a magazine, cooking dinner, talking on the phone, putting the kids to bed.

It’s certainly easy for me to make a fictional character mad about something. I can get them angry about something that I’m relatively indifferent about, just because I’m not educated on it, if I go to someone who is educated about it and is passionate about it. I find a point of fiction and then give it to them.

I had never thought of doing television. But my agent wanted me to meet John Wells, who had had a lot of success producing ER and China Beach. The night before the meeting, some friends were over for dinner and Akiva Goldsman and I slipped downstairs to the basement so we could sneak a cigarette. He said, “You know what would make a good television series? That.” And he was pointing at The American President poster. He said, “There doesn’t have to be a romance, just focus on a senior staffer.”

I got into dialogue because my parents began taking me to see plays from when I was very young. Too young, often, to understand the play I was watching: Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf when I was nine years old; That Championship Season when I was ten years old. But I loved the sound of dialogue; it sounded like music to me and I wanted to imitate that sound.

I do enjoy the fact that we don’t have a king or queen; we have a person with a very unusual temp job for a few years. My favorite moments on the show were always showing the intersection of the person and the job. Any time Bartlet from the West Wing could be something other than the president – a father, or a husband, or a son, or a friend.