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Video/Q&A: Director Alex Gibney compares Lance Armstrong, Eliot Spitzer and Julian Assange

(Lenny Gilmore / RedEye )
November 13, 2013|Matt Pais, @mattpais | RedEye movie critic

When director Alex Gibney was making an uplifting movie about Lance Armstrong’s 2009 comeback—before the confirmation of rumors about the champion cyclist’s doping and before Gibney remade the film into “The Armstrong Lie,” opening Friday—his subject lied to his face. Have other subjects tried to dupe the Oscar-winning documentarian (“Taxi to the Dark Side”)?

“Sure. I think they all do,” says the 60-year-old filmmaker (“Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer,” “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks”) with a laugh. “I think that everybody tells stories in ways that they want to hear them … Most people don’t tell you, ‘I’m going to tell you my story in the way that’s most critical of my role.’ They do just the opposite.”

Fortunately, Gibney shelved much of his original project—he says he “dodged a bullet” in learning the truth before releasing his less-investigative film—and got the disgraced Armstrong to sit down with him for another interview in early 2013, immediately following the athlete’s chat with Oprah. At the Peninsula Hotel, Gibney, whose father used to live in Chicago and, yes, did consider calling his movie “LieStrong,” compared some of his movies' controversial figures, addressed whether they want to see movies about themselves and, asked about his film “Catching Hell,” advocated for Chicago to hold a “Steve Bartman Day.”

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