Barack Obama, Rick Warren, Gus Van Sant

ABC/ DONNA SVENNEVIK, AP Photo/Charles Sykes, Frank Micelotta/Getty Images for VH1

Gus Van Sant didn't know he was sitting on a political firestorm when he made Milk.

The director says that California's antigay marriage ballot initative, Prop 8, wasn't even a blip on the radar during the making of the Harvey Milk biopic. The movie, starring Sean Penn, features the 1970s fight against California's Prop 6, which unsuccessfully tried to ban gay teachers in public schools.

"We were editing when Prop 8 appeared in July," Van Sant told me at last night's Critics' Choice Awards, where Milk picked up two wins (one for Penn and the other for Best Ensemble). "We had no idea that it would be an issue and that they would try to overturn it and change the [state] constitution. And even when it appeared, it wasn't polling very strongly."

Does Van Sant think President Barack Obama will help clean up some of the mess? "Considering what we've had the last eight years, he'll be a helping hand," he predicted.

Even so, like Anne Hathaway, he's none too pleased with Obama's pick for inaugural pastor, Rick Warren. "I'm still surprised," Van Sant said. "I don't quite understand it. I think there's a logic in whatever he had in mind, but I'm just not sure what that is."

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