Recount (film).jpg
Official poster
GenrePolitical drama
Written byDanny Strong
Directed byJay Roach
Music byDave Grusin
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Executive producers
ProducerMichael Haussman
CinematographyJim Denault
EditorAlan Baumgarten
Running time116 minutes
Production companies
Original networkHBO
Original release
  • May 25, 2008 (2008-05-25)

Recount is a 2008 political drama television film about Florida's vote recount during the 2000 United States presidential election. Written by Danny Strong and directed by Jay Roach, the television film stars Kevin Spacey, Bob Balaban, Ed Begley Jr., Laura Dern, John Hurt, Denis Leary, Bruce McGill, and Tom Wilkinson. It premiered on HBO on May 25, 2008. The television film won three Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Television Movie and Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special for Roach, and a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film for Dern.


Recount chronicles the 2000 U.S. presidential election Bush v. Gore case between Governor of Texas George W. Bush and U.S. Vice President Al Gore. It begins with the election on November 7 and ends with the Supreme Court ruling, which stopped the Florida election recount on December 12.

Key points depicted include: Gore's retraction of his personal telephone concession to Bush in the early hours of November 8; the decision by the Gore campaign to sue for hand recounts in Democratic strongholds where voting irregularities were alleged, especially in light of the statistical dead heat revealed by the reported machine recount; Republican pressure on Florida's Secretary of State Katherine Harris in light of her legally mandated responsibilities; the attention focused on the hand recounts by media, parties, and the public; the two major announcements by Florida Supreme Court spokesman Craig Waters extending the deadline for returns in the initial recount (November 21, 2000) and ordering a statewide recount of votes (December 8, 2000), and later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court; and finally the adversarial postures of the Supreme Courts of Florida and the United States, as well as the dissenting opinions among the higher court's justices.



In April 2007, it was announced that Sydney Pollack would direct the film.[1] By August, weeks away from the start of principal photography, Pollack withdrew from the project due to a then-undisclosed illness, and was replaced by Jay Roach.[2] Pollack died of cancer on May 26, 2008, one day after Recount premiered on HBO.[3]


On September 24, 2007, it was announced that Kevin Spacey would star as Ron Klain.[4]


Recount was shot in Jacksonville and Tallahassee, Florida.


Actor/Actress Character Notes
Kevin Spacey Ron Klain Nominated for Emmy Award, Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award
John Hurt Warren Christopher
Laura Dern Katherine Harris Won Golden Globe Award; nominated for Emmy Award and SAG Award
Tom Wilkinson James Baker Nominated for Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award
Denis Leary Michael Whouley Nominated for Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award
Ed Begley, Jr. David Boies
Bob Balaban Ben Ginsberg Nominated for Emmy Award
Bruce McGill Mac Stipanovich
Paul Jeans Ted Olson
Bruce Altman Mitchell Berger
Alex Staggs Craig Waters
Doug Williford Mark Fabiani
Gary Basaraba Clay Roberts
Stefen Laurantz Joe Allbaugh
Mitch Pileggi Bill Daley
Jayne Atkinson Theresa LePore
Marcia Jean Kurtz Carol Roberts
Mary Bonner Baker Kerey Carpenter
Bob Kranz Bob Butterworth
Raymond Forchion Jeff Robinson
Steve DuMouchel John Hardin Young
Marc Macaulay Robert Zoellick
Antoni Corone Tom Feeney
Matt Miller Jeb Bush
Terry Loughlin William Rehnquist
Judy Clayton Sandra Day O'Connor
William Schallert John Paul Stevens
Bruce Gray Anthony Kennedy
Michael Bryan French David Souter
Howard Elfman Stephen Breyer
Jack Shearer Antonin Scalia
Benjamin Clayton Clarence Thomas
Bradford DeVine Charles T. Wells
Candice Critchfield Judge Myriam Lehr
Annie Cerillo Barbara Pariente
Brewier Welch Harry Lee Anstead
Derek Cecil Jeremy Bash
Robert Small George J. Terwilliger III
Patricia Getty Margaret D. Tutwiler
Christopher Schmidt John E. Sweeney
Olgia Campbell Donna Brazile
James Carrey Chris Lehane
Brent Mendenhall George W. Bush
Grady Couch Al Gore
David Lodge Joe Lieberman
Carole Wood Tipper Gore
Mark Lamoureux Reporter
Tom Hillmann Brad Blakeman
Adam LeFevre Mark Herron


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Awards and nominations

2008 Emmy Awards:

2009 66th Golden Globe Awards:

2009 Directors Guild of America Award:

2009 Writers Guild of America Award:


On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 78%, based on 18 reviews, and an average rating of 6.4/10.[5] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 66 out of 100, based on 25 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[6] Mark Moorman of Het Parool, gave the film a rating of four stars on a scale of five, calling Recount an "amazing and funny reconstruction".[7]

Response to fictionalization

Some critics have made charges of bias against the film. Entertainment Weekly wrote, "Recount may not be downright blue, but it's not as purply as it wants to appear. Despite its equal time approach, Recount is an underdog story, and thus a Democrat story."[8] Film critic Roger Ebert disputed claims of bias in his review of the film, stating, "You might assume the movie is pro-Gore and anti-Bush, but you would not be quite right."[9]

In an interview with CNN's Reliable Sources, director Jay Roach responded that the film, "wasn't 100 percent accurate, but it was very true to what went on. ... That's what dramatizations do: stitch together the big ideas with, sometimes, constructs that have to stand for a larger truth." Roach cited All the President's Men as an example.[10] Jake Tapper, an ABC newscaster who was a consultant for the film also stated in response that the film is "a fictional version of what happened" and "tilts to the left because it's generally told from the point of view of the Democrats."[10] The Washington Post further stated that Tapper noted that "while some scenes and language are manufactured, 'a lot of dialogue is not invented, a lot of dialogue is taken from my book, other books and real life.' "[10]

Florida Supreme Court
Florida Supreme Court

Florida Supreme Court spokesman Craig Waters agreed that the script departed from the actual statements he made on live television from the courthouse steps in the fall of 2000. "But the words spoken by the actor who played me [Alex Staggs]," Waters said, "are accurate paraphrasis of the things I actually said or of the documents released by the court at the time."

Warren Christopher, who was sent by Gore to supervise the recount, has objected to his portrayal in the film. According to the San Jose Mercury News, Christopher:

... has not seen the film, but he read transcripts of scenes featuring his character, who is portrayed as a high-minded but naive statesman. In one scene, Christopher, played by John Hurt, suggests to former Secretary of State James Baker, who was spearheading Bush's Florida legal team, that they try to resolve the recount through 'diplomacy and compromise.' 'That's absurd,' Christopher says. 'Both Baker and I knew this would be a fight to the end that only one side could win.'

Baker agreed that the film exaggerated his rival's stance: "He's not that much of a wuss," said Matea Gold of the San Jose Mercury News.[11]

Democratic strategist Michael Whouley has objected to the amount of swearing he does in the film, and was also uncomfortable with a scene involving a broken chair.

In contrast, Bush legal advisers James Baker and Benjamin Ginsberg have largely given the film good reviews; Baker even hosted his own screening of it, though he does refer to the film as a "Hollywood rendition" of what happened.[11]



  1. ^ "Pollack 'making Bush poll movie'". BBC News. BBC. April 2, 2007. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  2. ^ "Ill Pollack steps down from film". BBC News. BBC. August 7, 2007. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  3. ^ "US director Sydney Pollack dies". BBC News. BBC. May 27, 2008. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  4. ^ Fleming, Michael (September 24, 2007). "Spacey to star in HBO's 'Recount'". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  5. ^ "Recount (2008)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  6. ^ "Recount Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  7. ^ Moorman, Mark (February 19, 2009). "Siamese punk and a recount". Het Parool. p. A&M 23.
  8. ^ Flynn, Gillian (May 16, 2008). "Recount". Entertainment Weekly. Time. Retrieved September 8, 2011.
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger (May 25, 2008). "Recount". Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  10. ^ a b c Kurtz, Kyle (May 23, 2008). "Truth and Chads Hang In the Balance Of 'Recount'". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  11. ^ a b Gold, Matea (May 22, 2008). "HBO's 'Recount' revisits hanging chad debacle". San Jose Mercury News. Digital First Media. Retrieved May 26, 2008.