While many people feel as though they know the facts of the Watergate scandal, many haven't heard the story of Martha Mitchell and her involvement. Essentially acting as the whistle-blower in the now infamous case, Martha would eventually break the news of the Watergate break-in to reporters, implicating several high-profile people.
Stan's latest show, Gaslit, puts Martha's story at the forefront, and is a guaranteed must-watch for anyone looking to learn more about the lady behind the scandal. Below, we compare the onscreen actors to their real-life counterparts.
Gaslit drops on Stan on April 24. Sign up for your free trial here.
Julia Roberts plays Martha Mitchell
Martha Mitchell was married to President Nixon's Attorney General, John Mitchell. Known for being incredibly talked about and well-connected within the community, the 'Mouth of the South' was is a significant, global figure who played a monumental role in breaking the Watergate scandal.
After the 1972 burglary at the Watergate office building, Martha's husband, John attempted to stop her from discovering the information as she had a tendency to leak inside information to the press. He knew that Martha would often listen in on his private phone calls and go through his files to learn more about what her husband was doing, and he was determined not to let it happen again.
Ultimately, Martha ended up uncovering the truth and leaked the information to a major press outlet. While on the phone to a reporter, Martha claims she was then kidnapped and tranquilised by members of Nixon's party in order to stop her from disclosing any further details.
Sean Penn plays John Mitchell
John Mitchell was husband to Martha Mitchell and Attorney General to President Nixon from 1969-1972.
Martha believed that while her husband was involved with the president professionally, he wouldn't have been involved in any criminal activity, labelling him the 'fall guy' to press at the time. However, John was sentenced to 19 months in prison on charges that he had conspired to plan the break-in, obstructed justice and perjured himself during the subsequent cover-up of the affair. Following his indictment, he split from Martha in 1975 and the pair never saw each other again.
Dan Stevens plays John Dean
During Richard Nixon's presidential campaign in 1968, John volunteered his time to write position papers on crime, given his professional experience as a lawyer. In 1969, he was promoted to associate deputy in the office of the Attorney General, serving under John Mitchell. The two were said to be on friendly terms and by 1970, John was working as the president's chief domestic adviser.
Following the Watergate scandal, John's testimony was largely responsible for taking Nixon down, despite admitting to his own involvement as well. In the end, John testified against Nixon in court and plead guilty to obstruction of justice as part of a deal. He was subsequently disbarred from legal practice in Virginia but was not sentenced to any jail time. Instead, he spent four months hiding out at a safe house in Baltimore.
Betty Gilpin plays Mo Dean
Maureen 'Mo' Dean married John Dean in 1972 — the same year as the Watergate scandal. She was known for sitting stoically behind John during his trial, with her hair always preened to perfection and a serene look on her face. The pair were known to have a very healthy marriage, with John's colleagues describing him as "completely in love with her."
That isn't to say that the scandal didn't take a personal toll on the pair. In 1973, Maureen locked herself in a bathroom and threatened to cut her wrists. A year later, she told People in 1974 that she only wanted attention and was trying to scare John. “It gave me the reassurance I needed at the moment, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone,” she told the publication.
Shea Whigham plays G. Gordon Liddy
At the time of the Watergate scandal, Gordon was serving Nixon's general counsel on his re-election committee. As part of this role, Liddy involved with a small group of operatives known as the "White House plumbers," whose mission it was to identify anyone who had leaked information that could make the Nixon administration look bad.
Prior to his role with Nixon, Liddy worked as an FBI agent, and, alongside former CIA agent E. Howard Hunt, would go on to orchestrate two break-ins at the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate complex in Washington which involved planting bugs and photographing documents.
Liddy refused to testify at his trial, and was ultimately convicted of conspiracy, burglary, and illegal wiretapping for his role in the scandal. While he was sentenced to 20 years in prison, he would only go on to serve four-and-a-half.