Monday 20th June 2011
When a successful British ghostwriter is offered the job of ghosting the memoirs of a controversial former British prime minister, he shies away from the idea from the very start. Not least because the last man to attempt the assignment wound up dead, apparently after falling from a ferry. But The Ghost - as the ghostwriter is always referred to-takes the assignment anyway. As his agent says, it's a great opportunity and it will pay well. But it's a tough gig. The publishers in London tell him it must be written within a month and The Ghost will have to go to America that very night to write it-specifically to the publisher's own house on an island off the Eastern seaboard where the former Prime Minister, Adam Lang, is staying during a US lecture tour.
Things start going wrong immediately. First, The Ghost is mugged on his way home. Then, while waiting for his flight at Heathrow Airport, he catches a breaking news story about Lang on an airport TV: the former prime minister has been accused of illegally seizing suspected terrorists in Pakistan and handing them over for torture by the CIA-a claim that, if true, would make him a war criminal under UK and international law. Stateside, on his way to the island, The Ghost finds himself riding the very ferry the previous ghostwriter, Mike Mcara, supposedly fell from two weeks earlier.
Arriving at the publisher's luxury house, The Ghost finds it under tight security, guarded by a team of British officers. He also finds an unhappy atmosphere. Lang and his wife, Ruth, are having marital troubles and Lang is having an affair with his personal assistant, Amelia. Amelia makes the Ghost sign a confidentiality agreement before showing him the manuscript and he has to promise not to remove it from the building. The Ghost settles down to work and is astonished and appalled at how bland and badly written the book is. Ruth arrives and asks him how bad it is. He answers diplomatically. Later, The Ghost accompanies her to the local airport to meet Lang, who arrives in a private jet bearing the corporate logo of a company called Hatherton. After being introduced, The Ghost checks into a small hotel.
The next day, The Ghost has his first interview session with Lang, recording the conversation and taking notes, which he will use to write his own version of the memoirs. Lang tells him he had no interest in politics until he fell in love with a girl who was canvassing for local elections. That girl, he says, was Ruth-now his wife. Later, the political controversy swirling around Lang intensifies when former British Foreign Secretary Richard Rycart asks the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to investigate Lang's alleged role in the CIA "torture flights". A media firestorm ensues and The Ghost agrees to write a statement for the media on Lang's behalf rebutting Rycart's accusations and suggesting they are fuelled by personal revenge, since Lang fired Rycart when he was in power. The Ghost is asked by the publishers to crank out the book even faster-in two weeks-to take advantage of the publicity surrounding Lang.
Back at his hotel, The Ghost encounters a stranger who is looking for Lang and when he later returns to his room he finds someone has broken in and searched through his belongings. The next day, reporters swarm around The Ghost's hotel in preparation for an ICC press conference in The Hague. Amelia tells The Ghost to leave the hotel and stay at the house instead. The Ghost complies and as he is driven to the house, he passes a group of protesters. Among them is the Stranger, who yells through the car window that The Ghost is working for a murderer. (The Stranger lost a son who served in the military in what he calls one of Lang's "illegal wars".)
At the house, The Ghost is given the same room McAra stayed in before he died. After Lang and his entourage have departed for Washington to seek political support, the Ghost finds an envelope in his room containing some of McAra's research materials, including old photos from Lang's days at Cambridge and a photocopy of his original party membership card. The date on the card suggests Lang was into politics long before he fell in love with Ruth-thus contradicting his story to The Ghost. The Ghost also finds a phone number, which he dials. He is amazed to hear Richard Rycart answer the phone and The Ghost hangs up at once. The Ghost begins to suspect that McAra's death may not have been an accident or suicide after all.
Shifting into investigative mode, The Ghost rides a bicycle toward the nearby cove where McAra's body washed up. There he meets an old man who knows the currents and who tells him there's no way the body of someone who fell off the ferry would have washed ashore at the cove. He also learns that an old woman told police that she saw flashlights on the beach the night McAra died, but that woman is now in a coma after falling downstairs a week earlier. Suspecting foul play and with Lang still in Washington, The Ghost that night shares his findings with Ruth; after a tense and highly-charged evening, the two end up in bed together.
Next day, The Ghost announces he's returning to his hotel in an effort to restore some professional distance. He tells Ruth he plans to take no action on his findings since he is only a ghostwriter, not an investigative reporter. Driving an SUV reserved for guests, he heads toward his hotel. As he drives, the satellite navigation system starts giving him turn-by-turn instructions for the car's last destination. The Ghost tries to disable the SatNav system, but he finally gives in and decides to see where the car leads him. Instead of his hotel, the car takes him to the ferry terminal. By now, The Ghost suspects he is following the route McAra took the night he died. He rides the ferry and continues following the SatNav instructions until he reaches the destination: a hard-to-find house on a country lane near Boston.
The name on the mailbox-Professor Paul Emmett-rings a bell. Checking his documents, The Ghost recognises Emmett in various photos with Lang at Cambridge. Moreover, he sees that the final chapter of McAra's manuscript actually begins with a reference to Emmett. Moments later a car carrying Emmett and his wife turns into the property. The Ghost manages to speak with Emmett, quizzing him on his connection with Lang. But Emmett insists the two hardly knew each other. They merely performed in the same play at Cambridge and then, many years later, Lang was present at a reception for an organization Emmett runs called the Arcadia Institution. When The Ghost's questioning turns to why McAra drove out to see Emmett on the night he died, Emmett claims to know nothing about the matter and shows The Ghost the door.
As The Ghost drives away, he notices a large sedan stopped some distance behind him. He thinks he has managed to elude his pursuers, but when he tries to board the ferry to return to the island, he realizes he is still being tailed. He manages to jump off the ferry just as it leaves dock and checks into a local motel. Scared, with no way out before morning and with no one else to turn to, the Ghost calls Rycart's number again and this time talks to him. Rycart asks whether he has the manuscript of Lang's memoirs. The Ghost says yes. Rycart tells him to stay where he is.
To fill in the time while he waits for Rycart, the Ghost researches the Arcadia Institution on his laptop and finds a web of connections between the Anglo-American think-tank, Emmett, Lang, the Hatherton Group-whose name was emblazoned on Lang's private jet and is linked to the CIA "torture flights" - and the CIA. Furthermore, he learns that Emmett was a CIA officer when he knew Lang at Cambridge. The Ghost is stunned. Ruth calls, to ask where he is: the police have discovered his abandoned car on the ferry. He tells her he is at the ferry terminal, but when she asks him why he is on the mainland in the first place he lies and says he had to go to New York and see the publisher. There is a knock at the door and he hangs up.
His visitor is Rycart's bodyguard. He tells the Ghost to pack and come with him. He leads him down to the car park where Rycart is waiting. They drive to a local diner. Rycart wants to see the manuscript. He tells the Ghost that McAra was helping him put together his case against Lang regarding the CIA torture flights. But McAra also told Rycart he had discovered something bigger-something that made sense of everything that had gone wrong while Lang was in power. McAra would not tell Rycart what it was over the phone, saying only, cryptically, that the truth was all there in "the beginning" of the manuscript. The Ghost gives him the manuscript but warns him it is dull and contains nothing significant: what McAra meant by "the beginning" was Lang's time at Cambridge, when he got to know a CIA officer: Emmett. Rycart, hugely excited, hypothesizes that Lang was actually in the service of the CIA throughout his premiership-a thesis which would explain why every decision he made was in the interests of the USA. And McAra likely was murdered because he was onto this secret.
At this crucial point in their conversation, Lang calls from his private jet and offers to pick the Ghost up from the ferry terminal and take him back to the island, so that they can continue work on the book. At Rycart's urging, the Ghost agrees to go. But he is very reluctant and becomes even more so when Rycart reveals he has been taping their conversation and will arrange for him to be subpoenaed by the ICC unless he agrees to help entrap Lang.
The Ghost joins Lang on his jet and confronts him with Rycart's theory, but Lang laughs and seems genuinely incredulous at the claims. He says he would never take orders from anyone and that he made the decisions he did while prime minister because he believed they were right. Then, when the plane lands at the island's airport and the passengers walk to the terminal, gunshots ring out and Lang falls, dead. The Stranger shot him and is in turn shot to death by Lang's protection officers. The Ghost is questioned by suspicious FBI officers, then released.
In spite of The Ghost's misgivings, his agent persuades him to finish the book and four months later it is launched at a lavish publication party in London, to which Amelia invites The Ghost. Ruth is there, signing copies. As a keepsake, The Ghost gives Amelia McAra's original manuscript. She tells him the reason it had to be kept under such tight security was because the Americans believed the book was a potential threat to national security-something to do with "the beginnings". "The beginning?" the Ghost asks, echoing Rycart. She corrects him: "beginnings", plural. Then, The Ghost sees Emmett at the party talking to Ruth. Amelia tells him Emmett was Ruth's tutor at Harvard. The Ghost takes McAra's manuscript into a back room and flips through it, wondering what McAra meant by the truth being contained "in the beginnings". He solves the riddle by writing down the first word of each chapter: "Lang's . Wife . Ruth . Was . Recruited . As . A . CIA . Agent . By . Professor Paul Emmett of Harvard University".
The Ghost writes the sentence on a piece of paper, folds it and passes it through the crowd to Ruth, who is giving a speech memorializing Lang and McAra. When Ruth reads it, she freezes and sees The Ghost raising a glass of champagne to her. Alarmed, she jumps down from the platform, but Emmett whispers something reassuring. Outside, The Ghost tries to hail a taxi, then wanders down the centre of the street and out of shot, just as a car accelerates towards him. There is the sound of a terrible collision. As people hurry to the scene of the accident, the pages of the manuscript begin blowing in a blizzard of paper past a poster showing the impassive face of Adam Lang.
The Ghost is Academy Award-winning Roman Polanski's first contemporary thriller in more than twenty years. It tells the story of a former British Prime Minister Adam Lang, (Pierce Brosnan) who is holed up on an island off America's Eastern seaboard in midwinter, writing his memoirs. When his long-standing aide drowns, a professional ghostwriter (Ewan McGregor) is sent out to help him finish the book. The anonymous ghostwriter is quickly drawn into a political and sexual intrigue involving Lang's wife Ruth (Olivia Williams) and his aide Amelia Bly (played by Kim Cattrall). Hanging over Lang is the threat of a war crimes trial and a mysterious secret from his past that threatens to jeopardize international relations. Eli Wallach, Jim Belushi, Timothy Hutton, Robert Pugh and Golden Globe winner Tom Wilkinson co-star.
The Ghost is based on the novel The Ghost, written by best-selling author Robert Harris. It won the International Thriller Writers' Award for best novel of 2008. Harris joined Polanski in adapting the book for the big screen. Filming took place over 3 months on location in Germany and at Studio Babelsberg, Berlin.
The Ghost is a contemporary thriller by the best-selling British novelist and journalist Robert Harris. In early 2007 while working with Roman Polanski on an adaptation of his novel Pompeii, Harris, a former political editor, started to write the novel. Harris was working on both projects in parallel and believes the novel was imbued with Polanski's influence as a result. When, for various reasons, the planned film of Pompeii didn't go ahead, Harris sent Polanski a copy of his finished novel, prior to its publication. Polanski responded by saying "Let's do this instead, it's like Chandler". Harris explains. "He'd been looking to make a thriller and had been originally interested in my first novel "Fatherland", but he discovered it had already been filmed. So in a curious working out of fate, which he strongly believes in, we ended up making something completely different. We then spent another very pleasant few months working on this screenplay instead".
Harris found Polanski the perfect collaborator. "He is respectful of the original source material and he always said 'the novel is the screenplay'. So from a writer's point of view he's the ideal director. Our method was to do a draft, which I would write based on the scenes and the structure of the book and then we would go over it remorselessly - discarding, sharpening, improving. One of the curious effects of working with him is to feel one is writing the novel again, but getting it right this time around. There are things in The Ghost screenplay which are better than are in the novel. We worked at it and made it sharper. For example, I think that the movie's infinitely strengthened by the fact it stays in this environment of trees and coastline and derelict rundown ports and beaches. That works much better".
Harris found that he and Polanski had a similar approach to storytelling that made their collaboration all the more enjoyable. " Just as I'm less interested in writing shimmering prose for the sake of shimmering prose, so I don't think that he's interested in a particular shot or a particular dramatic piece of cinema happening for the sake of just showing off. It's always story, character and logic. It was such a joy working on the screenplay".
The page-turning novel that became the script was influenced by the master of the art of suspense. "I hugely admire the thrillers of Alfred Hitchcock", says Harris. "The way an ordinary guy gets plunged into a completely strange world, yet every step of what happens is completely logical. Yet it becomes more and more crazy. I like that genre and Hitchcock was the master of it. And certainly I tried to put an element of that in The Ghost. This is an ordinary, nameless guy, who happens to do a job that takes him into a completely extraordinary world. And we go into that world with him. What appeals to me and I think to Roman as well, about the thriller genre is that it has fantastic narrative energy and drive".
At the time of the book's publication, many commentators interpreted the novel as a thinly-veiled commentary on his former friend and former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Harris explains the genesis of the idea. "The Ghost is an idea I had many years ago. Probably 15 years ago, long before Tony Blair was Prime Minster. I was just very interested in the set up of a former world leader and someone who has to write his memoirs for him. I envisioned from the start a kind of love interest between the ghostwriter and this ex-leader's wife. I saw them living in some isolated spot, but I could never quite get it right. I could never quite see who this world leader was or where he lived. And year after year I'd look at this idea, then put it away. In the end more than a decade went by. And finally in 2006 I heard an interview on the radio with someone who wanted to have Tony Blair prosecuted for war crimes, who said that the only way he would be able to avoid this would be to go and live in America in exile because he couldn't be extradited from there. And I almost froze in my seat because I suddenly thought how that could be the central character. Someone based on someone in that situation. And immediately then I also saw the location -- in exile, in the United States, like Solzhenitsyn in the 70's. That's really when it crystallized for me".
Although there are obvious similarities between Tony and Cherie Blair and the characters of the Lang's in the film, Harris stresses the universality of the themes. "Writing about power is the thing that I'm most interested in and all my novels, in a way, are examinations of power. I'm particularly interested in the phenomenon of the leader who loses power, be it Richard Nixon or Margaret Thatcher. How do they re-adjust? What takes a person to the top and then what's it like to lose that power. When I started writing the image of Tony Blair went out of the window and I created - I hope - this universal political figure".
As a political journalist who for a time was close to Tony Blair just before and after he became Prime Minister, Harris was in the rare position of having a ring-side seat at the centre of British politics. "I acquired a lot of information on the inside track. I got access which no journalist got at that time, let alone a novelist. I was able to acquire information about the way people react under pressure, the way one lives in the security bubble, the relationship with power, the excitement and the adrenaline of it. And it gave me the confidence to imagine is how someone would behave in that situation". As producer Robert Benmussa, who has worked with the director since 1992's Bitter Moon, says, "In all of Polanski's films, there are many layers and one of the leitmotifs of all of his films is the struggle to bring the truth that lies beneath to light, to show the reality behind appearances. Justice is something he holds dear. But never without irony".
The Ghost is mostly set in America, in an out-of-season seaside town on an island off the eastern seaboard of the United States. The setting and climate were chosen for very specific reasons. "I always like to put weather in my books", says Harris. "I suppose that's because I'm an Englishman and we're famously obsessed with the weather. And it was very important to me to get that whole feel of an exile in a shuttered up seaside town in winter. A place that everyone else has abandoned".
Indeed, one of the film's key themes is isolation. "The prime minister is living in an isolated environment", explains Harris. "He's on an island, he is cut off from the world. He is separated from the world by security. And that is something which I don't think has really received the amount of attention it should have done. At the height of the Second World War Winston Churchill used to walk from 10 Downing St. to the Houses of Parliament with one police inspector walking behind him. And Churchill would raise his hat to passersby. And this is during the greatest war in history, in which 40,000 British civilians were killed by bombing! As a former prime minister, Blair has, I think, 24 full time armed body guards. He never will be allowed to drive a car, he never goes on a commercial flight, or very rarely. He certainly doesn't go through a public lounge. He doesn't have to do all those security shake downs at airports and so on. I'm absolutely fascinated by the way in which our leaders have become a totally separate class from the rest of us. This never happened in the past. Even in medieval times, a king used to lead his men into battle. Now our leaders live behind bulletproof glass. This conditions the way that they behave and distorts relationships. And inevitably they live in an unreal world in which they become very dependent upon their security people and their aides, who become their only link to the real world".
Of course, the truth at the centre of The Ghost comes to light in way that recalls one of Polanski's most chilling films, which like this and several of his other films - Tess, Bitter Moon, The Ninth Gate, The Pianist, Oliver Twist - was based on a novel. In Rosemary's Baby, the identity of the evil neighbour is revealed in an anagram in a book. Here, the big reveal involves a riddle planted in the manuscript. While it appears fanciful, the concept has its origins in reality. "Two of my friends have both ghost written books. One suggested that I describe the process of ghost writing. They also said that it often occurred to them to encrypt something into the text in the way someone working on a great cathedral in the middle ages couldn't resist carving their initial letters or a leaving message, hidden high up among the gargoyles".
"The idea of disguising a secret as a code within the text of a book intrigued me", continues Harris. "The manuscript is absolutely essential throughout the book and the movie. Its importance grows and grows until it almost becomes a character in its own right. It's brought out, everybody sits and looks at it. And then it has to be worked on and crossed out; it can't be taken out of the building. But then the writer smuggles it out and finally it proves to be the answer to the whole mystery. And then it's the last thing we see as the credits roll".
The narrator of The Ghost, played by Ewan McGregor, provided another great challenge for the writer and director - an unnamed writer who is at the centre of the story and yet remains an elusive bystander to the main events, but one who nevertheless solves the riddle at the centre of the story. Harris and Polanski began by seeking inspiration from Billy Wilder's seminal film Sunset Boulevard in their quest to find a voice for the lead character who is dead before the action of the movie begins. (Sunset Boulevard, is famously told from the point of view of a dead man.)
"Roman's suggestion was that we should tell a lot of the story, as Wilder does, by using voiceover", explains Harris. "But the problem with that, we discovered, was that the story unfolded perfectly well simply using action and dialogue and the voiceover added nothing. It slowed us down, in fact. So in the second draft of the screenplay we dropped that device. We did not, however, want to lose the dark undertone to the story that comes from the audience realising at the very end that The Ghost is just that - a ghost. It was a problem that we still hadn't solved when the movie started shooting - I guess we must have spent more time puzzling over that than anything else. And then Roman came up with this extraordinary ending which I suspect may well become one of the most memorable things about the film, but it was almost ad libbed. Just as Chinatown needed a dark ending, this film also cried out for a hard ending".
With the screenplay now fine-tuned, the film-makers turned their attention to choosing their cast. The biggest challenge was the character of the narrator, who remains nameless. "I was influenced by the famous novel Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, in which we never know the name of the narrator and the idea of a ghostwriter fits perfectly with that", explains Harris about the inspiration behind the novel's central conceit. "He takes the viewer into a world and describes it for us. He's just a very ordinary guy, who just happens to do a job that means meeting extraordinary people". The sense of narrative perspective is central to much of Polanski's work. As producer Robert Benmussa clarifies",There are always many layers in Polanski's work but there are constants. All his films are seen from the point of view of a character. Here, we are with The Ghost from the first frame to the last - it is all seen from his point of view and the viewer goes forward with him. This is characteristic of Polanski's films".
Ewan McGregor was cast in the role of The Ghost. With no description of the character or back story detail in the script, it was up to the actor - with the help of his director and screenwriter - to find a way into his character, to find a way to discover his traits and ticks, to develop his manner and characteristics. "It was quite brave of Ewan to take on such a part", says Harris. "He really did have to completely flesh it out himself. Very early on Ewan was the name that came to mind, as someone who was both an everyman, but also glamorous in a believable way. And he had to be sympathetic". Producer Timothy Burrill adds. "Ewan brings a likeability to the role and you have sympathy for the character, largely due to the way Ewan plays him. He has the charm and the sense of humour that brings a lightness to the movie that was so important".
Ewan McGregor was thrilled by the prospect of working with Polanski. "I expected that I would be challenged by Roman and I really wanted to be. He's always giving actors really interesting notes on their performance, really, left of field comments that brings things to life. It's wonderful. He puts in massive amounts of details in the performance and what you see and how you move and what the set looks like and what's lying around. It's the detail that makes it strikingly real I think. I've watched most of his films now in preparations for this and that's what I was struck by and I was excited by".
The political element of the script also attracted McGregor and the necessity to examine our leaders. "Politicians make monumental life or death decisions on our behalf and then retire and wander off into a world of speech-making and money-making and are not held accountable for the decisions they made or the lies they told and they get off scot free. It drives me mad and this film is very timely".
When it came to casting Adam Lang, Polanski was keen to avoid any comparisons to any former British prime ministers. "Roman wanted the physical aspects of the characters to be different to those we might imagine", says producer Robert Benmussa. "That was very important. The idea was to have characters with their own charisma so when you see the film you have a sort of subliminal association with events which have taken place". This was going to be a challenge - when the novel was published, British and foreign commentators immediately interpreted it as a thinly-veiled swipe at Tony Blair. Polanski knew who he wanted for the role - Pierce Brosnan. The director had no other names in mind.
Robert Harris was thrilled with Polanski's choice. "Lang is a composite of all the politicians I've ever read about and been interested in", says the writer. "He has charm, you understand how you'd vote for him. And Pierce has great charm and self-confidence. Lang is not Blair but he does have some of the actorish mannerisms that Blair has. I wanted to also hint at the way that political careers are tragedies because you have a few years and then your life is never the same".
Pierce Brosnan had read the novel and found it a page-turner and was attracted by the complexities of the story and characters. "This is a political thriller, but not really. It has a Shakespearean flavour to it, it's a Jacobean tragedy. A man is caught in the circumstances of his own life and his own ego with a woman that he doesn't really know and is manipulated and maligned by her. I vacillated between liking Adam Lang and thinking he was a complete and utter jerk to believing he had sincerity and did want the best for his country. There is a lot of concealment within all these characters. It really is a nest of vipers in this rather bleak austere house. The writing is very good. "
Brosnan had never imagined himself in the role of ex-Prime Minister. "I never saw myself as a British Prime Minister, ex or otherwise, but I'm having a great time playing it and it's a treat to watch Roman. He's very charming and he's very specific and to see a director with his viewfinder picking the shot, it's superb. The viewfinder he uses looks like it dates from Knife in the Water. I've been a fan of his work for many years, he is a brilliant cinematic storyteller".
The role of Amelia Bly was the second character to be cast. Again, Polanski only had one name in his head for this protective assistant to Adam Lang, whose loyalty to her boss goes beyond the call of duty - Kim Cattrall.
"In a political office there is usually a very powerful figure", says Harris. "And quite often with Presidents and with Prime Ministers it's a woman. She's a kind of super secretary or personal assistant who becomes, as it were, a professional wife. This interested me very much because it sets off all kinds of tensions and possibilities. Inevitably there's a curious relationship between the boss and this professional who tells him he's marvellous or makes sure his tie is straight. There's also a tension between someone who plays the professional wife and the actual wife, which is interesting. And then by making her attractive and formidable means that The Ghost, who is quite full blooded, is also drawn to her. And so you immediately have a wonderful four-way scenario of tensions and possibilities between these four people. It's quite understated at first but gradually develops. It was only while I was writing the book that I began to imagine Lang and Amelia having an affair. It seemed to me inevitable: as Lang loses power, he turns to another kind of consolation. Amelia to me is a very interesting character. There's also often something very sad about those professional wives. They either have no private life or they have a marriage which is duller than the professional relationship with their boss. It's another manifestation of the way in which power distorts human relations and lives. And that figure is one of the beneficiaries and also casualties of the magnetism of power".
"I would say that there are two wives in Adam Lang's life. There's Ruth and there's Amelia", says Cattrall. "This is a woman who's made a career out of helping politicians and she is always one step ahead anticipating his needs. She's smart, she's capable and she's really indispensable. Her support of Adam Lang is unconditional and I think she feels that he has done the right thing".
Cattrall found Polanski an inspiring director. "I've seen all his films and Polanski is a fascinating filmmaker. He's a wonderful director, because he leads the suspense. You follow him, you can't stop looking. You need to know more. I've heard him say sometimes, even in a camera move "No don't be so literal. We need the suspense. Leave a little something out. And that's what I love about Roman's work, it's so exciting to watch, because I don't know where I'm going to end up. He leads you slowly but deliberately into a trap and then you have like the characters in the film the same kind of climatic effect. It's really thrilling to watch".
Cattrall continues. "Roman knows his job better than anyone else and he knows your job better than anyone else. He knows behind and in front of the camera, he knows specifically what he needs and how he needs it. That's a real challenge for an actor. He can pitch in and fix a microphone or saw a table or tell you something about your accent or your make-up. Whatever it is, his eye is complete. For me it's exciting just to keep up with him".
With three of the principal roles cast the role of Ruth Lang, the ex-Prime Minister's wife, proved a tougher challenge. After considering several actors who were the right age for the part, Polanski settled on Olivia Williams.
"I think Ruth is the most interesting character in the movie", says Harris. "She's the most intelligent and she's the person who really makes everything work. She's also the funniest and the sharpest. I'm interested in a power couple in which someone with charm and the gift of communication becomes the public face of the relationship and the one with the acute political brain but less charisma remains behind the scenes. Ruth is a very complicated and mysterious figure. There have been endless stories about Russians infiltrating British society but if you looked at post-war British history, the Russians failed to exercise any real influence at all on British foreign and defence policy. But there is another country that some people say has taken over and cloned Britain and that's America. I thought it was quite interesting to have the idea of a Cambridge spy being recruited not by the KGB but by the CIA. I exchanged many emails with Olivia about the character and she certainly shares a piercing intelligence with Ruth. So she is perfect and the perfect foil for Kim Cattrall".
"Robert Harris sent me a list of characteristics to describe Ruth which began with clever, dominating, vulnerable, jealous, cunning, neurotic and proud of her husband, but contemptuous of him. This contradictory list of adjectives has been ringing around in my head ever since", says Olivia Williams. "Ruth is the way I'd like to behave in real life! Being so upfront and seemingly transparent no one sees the threat that she is incredibly idealistic and driven. To the point that she will make the ultimate sacrifice for her beliefs".
Ruth's double role in the plot is only revealed at the end of the film and brings into question what has gone before. A tricky balancing act for an actor, but one that Williams embraced. "The role is an absolute pleasure, I have to lead an audience confidently down one path and deceive them. I had to do a similar thing in The Sixth Sense. It's really the pleasure of acting".
McGregor enjoyed watching the scenes between Williams and Cattrall unfold. "It's wonderful watching Olivia and Kim because the two characters are in love with the same man. And it's very fascinating to see how they're playing that. It's beautifully done. It's very nicely detailed, the cattiness between the two women, but it's quite subtle. They're often playing these scenes in front of Lang, in front of the man they loved and in front of The Ghost who they're trying to hide it from, but it slips out here and there, they're playing it very delicately".
The supporting cast comprises some of the best character actors working today - Golden Globe winner Tom Wilkinson as Paul Emmett, James Belushi as The Ghost's publisher John Maddox, Eli Wallach as the Old Man, Timothy Hutton as Lang's lawyer Sidney Kroll, Jon Bernthal as the agent Nick Ricardelli and Robert Pugh as ex-Foreign Secretary Richard Rycart.
"As in all of Polanski's films, there are several characters who have episodic roles but who remain very important", says Benmussa. "Tom Wilkinson's character is very important in the film and Roman insisted on casting someone with a great deal of charisma even though the part was only really significant at certain moments. James Belushi isn't a principal character but he's a character with a real personality and needed to be played by a very charismatic actor. Roman loves actors, especially English actors. He has a sort of love affair with English actors and that was just right for this film because the majority of the actors are British".
"One of the great advantages of working with Roman is that he has an extraordinary ability to bring people to work with him", says Timothy Burrill. "There are very few actors who, if offered a few days work with him, would turn it down because his reputation amongst actors is remarkable. People really enjoy working with him. When I heard Eli Wallach had been cast for such a tiny role I was absolutely enchanted. It is perfect casting and it enhances the film. To get an actor such as Eli, at the age of 93, to come to Europe to play for one scene is an example of Roman's pulling power".
"There are great roles at the heart of the movie and we got great actors to play them. I couldn't be happier", concludes Polanski.
The Ghost boasts a cinematic first. Harris wrote the first novel to include a 'sat-nav' device at a key juncture. The directions of a disembodied voice provide his plot with its crucial breakthrough. Harris explains. "I had a very efficient research trip when I was writing the novel. I flew to Boston, picked up a hire car and drove down to Martha's Vineyard, the location for most of the action, which is named in the novel, but which becomes an anonymous, generic island in the movie. I was only there for about a week and then went back to London. And every single interesting thing that happened to me I put in the story. The house that's in the movie is an actual house that I found and was able to get into; the hotel and even the satellite navigation device in the hire car were useful. As I drove along listening to this disembodied voice I thought that this is perfect because someone who'd had the hire car before me had left their destination programmed into the machine. It took me a while to turn it off. And I thought this is fantastic because this can be a kind of voice from beyond the grave. And that device stayed right the way through, through the novel into the movie. And I hope it may be the first time a satellite navigation device has played a prominent role in a thriller!"
Filming took place over three months on locations in Germany and at Studio Babelsberg in Berlin.
Harris says "I think that the notion of exile and of hostility are important elements in the story. And certainly when we first talked about making the movie. The notion of doing something that was generic, that wouldn't be specific, but it would be an island, a coastline, a former leader. That it would be universal. I think that that's a great benefit. In that sense, the fact that this world has been recreated in Europe is far from being a handicap and suspect that that adds to the eerie feel that it has".
Ewan McGregor adds. "The locations have been really important. It's been really cold making this film. It's been windy and cold and we filmed so much outside. We've been shooting on beaches in whipping winds and rain and we're always trying to find bad weather. You know, we literally can't shoot if the skies are blue, it has to be grey and rainy and miserable and isolated. It's quite a claustrophobic feeling that's been created with these characters stuck together in this modern, sterile house in the middle of an island, set off the east coast of the state".
As Ewan McGregor noticed, no detail was too much for director Polanski. One detail that caught his attention was a brilliant touch that the audience would never know about. Fake covers were created for the ghost-written autobiography of Adam Lang and as McGregor reveals - they were wrapped around copies of a real book. "All the books that appear in the film are all clever designs, they all really look like real books. I was amazed. Someone in the art department is very good at creating book covers. But the truth behind the "Adam Lang, My Life" memoirs is in fact that they are "The Blair Years. The Alistair Campbell Diaries", inside. Every book in this movie that's got an Adam Lang cover on it is in fact The Blair Years. It's an art department joke".
Ewan Mcgregor (The Ghost) was born in 1971 in Crieff, Scotland. Ewan became enthralled with the world of acting from a very early age, largely inspired by his actor uncle, Denis Lawson (of Local Hero fame). His passion for the silver screen was crystallised in 1977, when, as a six year old, he was taken to see his uncle act in Star Wars. Like millions of other small boys in the world, he was spellbound. He saw the film so many times that he could recite practically the whole script without drawing breath - one of life's ironies that would take over twenty years to unfold.
Six months prior to graduating from London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Ewan was offered the role of Private Mick Hopper in Dennis Potter's six-part musical comedy television series Lipstick on Your Collar (produced by Rosemarie Whitman). Ewan's first film role was in Bill Forsyth's Being Human, where the producer Lord David Puttnam was so impressed by Ewan's abilities that he added in extra scenes for him on the spot.
The romantic lead as a French adventurer Julien Sorel in the BBC's production of Scarlet and Black, Ewan starred in the BAFTA award winning Shallow Grave. Shallow Grave was named Best Film at the 1994 Dinard Film Festival and the film won the 1994 BAFTA Alexander Korda Award for Outstanding British Film of the Year and the BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Feature Film. Ewan's portrayal of Alex Law earned him the Hitchcock D'Argent Best Actor Award and a nomination for Best Actor at the BAFTA Scotland Awards, as well as laying the roots for a highly successful partnership with the director, Danny Boyle. Ewan then went on to portray the shifty London drug-dealer Dean Raymond opposite an up-and-coming Catherine Zeta-Jones, followed by his first solo male lead in Peter Greenaway's erotic art-house film The Pillow Book.
Although Shallow Grave provided Ewan's breakthrough role, it was his portrayal of heroin-addict Mark Renton in Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting that catapulted McGregor to international fame. Trainspotting won a string of prestigious awards, including the BAFTA Scotland award for Best Feature Film, while McGregor himself picked up BAFTA Scotland's Best Actor accolade and for the second year running, the Empire magazine award for Best British Actor and from the London Film Critics' Circle. After the success of Trainspotting, Ewan took on the contrasting role of Frank Churchill opposite Gwyneth Paltrow in an adaptation of Jane Austen's novel Emma, directed by Doug McGrath. Ewan then starred opposite Tara Fitzgerald in Mark Herman's Cesar award winning Brassed Off.
Ewan's US film debut arrived in the shape of Nightwatch, a grisly slasher movie filmed in LA and having returned to Britain, he starred in Philippe Rousselot's The Serpent's Kiss with Pete Postlethwaite, Greta Scacchi and Richard E.Grant. Ewan was reunited with director Danny Boyle in A Life Less Ordinary, with Cameron Diaz, a role which won him the Best British Actor award (for the third time running) in the 1997 Empire Movie Awards. Also in 1997, Ewan received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor for his role in the ER episode, The Long Way Round.
Ewan then played opposite Michael Stipe in the glam rock film, Velvet Goldmine, followed by a portrayal of the infamous trader Nick Leeson and his spectacular fall from grace in Rogue Trader opposite Anna Friel. He teamed up again with Brassed Off director Mark Herman in the Golden Globe-winning Little Voice, alongside Jane Horrocks and Michael Caine.
Life came full circle for McGregor when he landed the part of Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, the legendary role once played by Sir Alec Guinness. Director George Lucas then invited Ewan back to star in the sequels; Star Wars Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars: Episode III (2005). In Baz Luhrmann's Oscar and BAFTA award winning musical Moulin Rouge, Ewan played Christian, opposite Nicole Kidman's Satine. Ewan starred in Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down and went on to film Young Adam with Peter Mullan and Tilda Swinton, for which he received a London Film Critics Circle Awards nomination. In 2002, Ewan filmed Down With Love opposite Rene Zellweger and then Tim Burton's Big Fish (2003), alongside Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Alison Lohman, Jessica Lange and Danny DeVito.
Other film credits include Marc Forster's supernatural thriller, Stay, alongside Naomi Watts and Ryan Gosling, Michael Bay's The Island (2005) alongside Scarlett Johanssen, Djimon Hounsou and Steve Buscemi, the animated films Robots (Dir. Chris Wedge) and Valiant (Dir. Gary Chapman), Scenes of a Sexual Nature (Dir. Edward Blum), Miss Potter (Dir. Chris Noonan), Woody Allen's Cassandra's Dream (2008), Incendiary, The Tourist, I Love You Phillip Morris with Jim Carey, Angels and Demons and Amelia.
Ewan's theatre credits include the role of Sky Masterson in the 2005 Donmar Warehouse production of Guys and Dolls and as Iago in Donmar Warehouse's Othello in 2007 and What the Butler Saw for the Salisbury Playhouse. Ewan received the Icon Award for achievement at the 2008 Empire Film Awards.
Kim Cattrall (Amelia Bly) has had an extensive acting career that spans film, stage and television. She has been one of the industry's busiest actresses noted for her comedic timing, dramatic depth and onscreen presence. Last month, Kim was inducted into Canada's 'Walk of Fame'.
Kim is currently in production on Sex and the City 2 in which she reprises her award-winning role as the infamous Samantha Jones, in Sex and the City: The Movie. The movie is based on the provocative, critically acclaimed HBO series of the same name. Kim was recognised for her portrayal of femme fatale Samantha with a Golden Globe and two Screen Actors Guild Awards. She is also the recipient of five Emmy Award nominations and three Screen Actors' Guild nominations.
Kim has starred in a host of Hollywood blockbusters including Police Academy, Porky's, Mannequin, Masquerade, Star Trek 6: The Undiscovered Country, John Carpenter's cult classic Big Trouble in Little China (opposite Kurt Russell), Disney's The Ice Princess and Brian De Palma's infamous Bonfire of the Vanities with Tom Hanks. Her performance as Jamie in the delightful independent feature Live Nude Girls earned her rave reviews at numerous independent film festivals. Kim stars as Monica in the comedy Meet Monica Velour (2009) written and directed by Keith Bearden.
In 2008, Kim was seen in John Boorman's The Tiger's Tail with Brendan Gleeson for Sony Classics and My Boy Jack, opposite Daniel Radcliffe and David Haig for PBS. Cattrall starred opposite Jamie Lee Curtis in the TNT television adaptation of Wendy Wasserstein's Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Heidi Chronicles and in Oliver Stone's mini-series Wild Palms for ABC.
Kim made her London stage debut in 2005 in Sir Peter Hall's acclaimed revival of Brian Clark's, Who's Life is it Anyway? In 2007 she returned to the West End in David Mamet's The Cryptogram at the Donmar Warehouse. In early 2010, Kim will be starring alongside Matthew Macfadyen in Private Lives, Noel Coward's comic masterpiece in the West End's Vaudeville Theatre.
An acclaimed writer, Kim has also written several books, including Sexual Intelligence which was a National Best Seller, Being a Girl: Navigating the Ups and Downs of Teenage Life; and Satisfaction: The Art of the Female Orgasm, a New York Times best seller. In addition to her stage, screen and writing credits, Kim is the founder of Fertile Ground Productions, a Canadian-based production company. Their first project was Sexual Intelligence, a feature-length HBO documentary based on her book of the same name for which she was nominated for a Gemini as Best Host or Interviewer in a General/Human Interest or Talk Program or Series. Kim was nominated for a Genie for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role for Ticket to Heaven. In 2008 she received the NBC Universal Award of Distinction.
Olivia Williams (Ruth Lang) earned a degree in English at Cambridge University before studying drama at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. As a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, she toured with Richard III starring Ian McKellen, a production which brought her to the US and the attention of Kevin Costner who chose her for his film The Postman in which she made her feature debut.
Since then Williams has appeared in Sundance co-founder Paul Rachman's Four Dogs Playing Poker, Peter Cattaneo's Lucky Break, Born Romantic, The Body opposite Antonio Banderas, The Man From Elysian Fields and The Heart of Me opposite Helena Bonham Carter and Paul Bettany, for which she was named Best Actress at the 2003 British Independent Film Awards.
Best known to international audiences for her starring roles in M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense and Wes Anderson's Rushmore, Olivia Williams continues to demonstrate her versatility with a range of projects across film, television and theatre. She appears in nineteen episodes of Dollhouse, the television series from Buffy director Joss Whedon and opposite Paul Bettany in the 2008 feature Broken Lines. Williams most recently appeared in the 2009 releases An Education and the Ian Dury biopic Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, with Andy Serkis and Ray Winstone.
Williams starred alongside Tim Roth, Dougray Scott and Rupert Everett in To Kill A King; as Mrs Darling in PJ Hogan's Peter Pan (2003) and in Tara Road, based on the Maeve Binchy bestseller. In addition, her voice was heard as 'Victoria' in the popular animated film Valiant. In 2008 Williams starred together with Daniel Craig in Baillie Walsh's Flashbacks of a Fool.
On stage, Williams appeared with Tom Hollander at the Donmar Warehouse in John Osborne's Hotel in Amsterdam (2003) and starred in The Changeling at the Barbican Theatre and on tour. Williams received excellent reviews for her performance as Kitty in The National Theatre's 2008 production of Happy Now? On television, Williams recently starred in the title role in the BBC biographical drama Miss Austen Regrets, based on the life and letters of Jane Austen. She previously starred in the title role in the BBC drama Agatha Christie: A Life in Pictures (2004) and docu-drama Krakatoa: The Last Days.
Pierce Brosnan (Adam Lang) is recognised internationally as one of the most dashing and skilled dramatic actors in Hollywood today, Golden Globe nominee Pierce Brosnan has most recently been seen on screen in the huge international hit Mamma Mia! starring alongside Meryl Streep and Colin Firth. He has completed filming on several new projects: The Greatest with Susan Sarandon, Chris Columbus' Perry Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightening Thief and Remember Me with Robert Pattinson.
In 2007 he starred in Ira Sachs' Married Life opposite Patricia Clarkson and Chris Cooper as well as in Butterfly on a Wheel, directed by Mike Barker. Seraphim Falls the previous year saw him starring alongside Liam Neeson. In 2005, Brosnan received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Performance by an Actor for his role as Julian Noble in the critically acclaimed film The Matador.
In addition to his work in front of the camera, Brosnan has always had an interest in the art of filmmaking. Having achieved international stardom as an actor, Brosnan expanded the range of his film work by launching his own production company, Irish DreamTime in 1996, along with producing partner Beau St. Clair.
Apart from The Matador, Irish DreamTime has produced four other films to date: The Nephew, The Thomas Crown Affair, Evelyn and Laws of Attraction. The company's first studio project, The Thomas Crown Affair, was a critical and box-office success and one of the best-reviewed and highest-grossing romantic thrillers in years. Evelyn, directed by Bruce Beresford, opened to critical acclaim at the Toronto and Chicago Film Festivals and also garnered rave reviews. Laws of Attraction, a romantic comedy, which teamed Brosnan with Julianne Moore, focused on dueling divorce attorneys who fall in love.
Shooting has begun on Irish DreamTime's sixth production, Butterfly on a Wheel, in which Brosnan stars with Maria Bello and Gerard Butler. The psychological thriller, currently shooting in Vancouver, centres on a happy couple with a seemingly perfect life whose daughter is abducted. Over the course of a day, the kidnapper dismantles the family's lives with brutal efficiency.
Perhaps best known worldwide as James Bond, Brosnan reinvigorated the popularity of the Bond legacy in box-office blockbusters such as Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day. Brosnan's first three Bond films earned over a billion dollars at the international box-office. His most recent Bond film, Die Another Day, was the most successful Bond film ever, garnering nearly a half-billion dollars worldwide. In addition to his four Bond films, three other Brosnan films - The Thomas Crown Affair, Dante's Peak and The Lawnmower Man have earned hundreds of millions of dollars internationally, cementing him as one of the world's most bankable stars.
Brosnan's other film credits include John Boorman's critically acclaimed film from the John LeCarre novel, The Tailor of Panama, Bruce Beresford's Mr. Johnson and Sir Richard Attenborough's Grey Owl. In addition to The Matador, Brosnan has also shown his comedic skills in such films as Mrs. Doubtfire and Mars Attacks. He also had a supporting role alongside Barbra Streisand in The Mirror Has Two Faces.
Some of his many accolades include a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2002 Chicago Film Festival, the International Star of the Year at the Cinema Expo in Amsterdam, an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from the Dublin Institute of Technology, an Honorary Doctorate from the University College Cork and an Order of the British Empire bestowed by Her Majesty the Queen.
Brosnan was born in County Meath, Ireland and moved to London at age 11. At 20, he enrolled in drama school and while in London, performed in several West End stage productions including Franco Zeffirelli's Fulimena and Tennessee Williams' The Red Devil Battery Sign at the York Theater Royal. Before landing the role of James Bond, Brosnan had achieved worldwide recognition as private investigator Remington Steele on the popular television series of the same name.
Timothy Hutton's (Sidney Kroll) career began with parts in several television movies. He made his feature film debut in Ordinary People (1980), directed by Robert Redford, for which he won both the Academy Award and the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor and also the Golden Globe New Star of the Year Award. He was at twenty, the youngest actor to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Hutton has since played numerous roles in feature films and television series. He starred as detective Archie Goodwin in the A&E television series A Nero Wolfe Mystery (2001-2002); he also served as an executive producer and directed several episodes of the series. Hutton's directing credits include the family film Digging to China (1988). In 2001, Hutton starred in the television miniseries WW3 and in 2006 he had a lead role in the NBC series Kidnapped, playing Conrad Cain, the wealthy father of a kidnapped teenager.
He has featured in a wide range of films from The Falcon and the Snowman (1985) to Brief Interviews with Hideous Men in 2009. Other features include Q+A, French Kiss, Beautiful Girls, Kinsey and The Good Shepherd. Hutton is currently starring in the television series Leverage, in which he plays an insurance investigator who becomes a modern-day Robin Hood and also recently appeared in the Australian-set Broken Hill (2009). He stars as Gabriel in the forthcoming drama Multiple Sarcasms, with Mira Sorvino and Stockard Channing.
Tom Wilkinson (Paul Emmett) is an award-winning actor of stage and screen. Wilkinson received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in Tony Gilroy's Academy Award-nominated Michael Clayton. He received an Academy Award? nomination for Leading Actor for his unforgettable performance in Todd Field's acclaimed drama In The Bedroom, opposite Sissy Spacek. Wilkinson also received a BAFTA nomination, won the Independent Spirit Award, a Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize and a New York Film Critics Circle Award for the role. Prior to that, Wilkinson won a BAFTA for his role in the 1997 British and international box-office sensation The Full Monty and garnered another BAFTA nomination the following year for his performance in the Oscar-winning Best PictureShakespeare In Love. He received Emmy and Golden Globe Award nominations for his courageous performance in HBO's 2003 film Normal, opposite Jessica Lange. Wilkinson most recently won an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Supporting Actor for the HBO miniseries John Adams, in which he portrayed Benjamin Franklin.
Next up for Wilkinson is 44 Inch Chest co-starring Ian McShane and Ray Winstone and the Miramax film The Debt starring opposite Helen Mirren. Wilkinson recently starred in Tony Gilroy's Duplicity with Julia Roberts and Clive Owen; Dedication, with Billy Crudup and Mandy Moore; Woody Allen's Cassandra's Dream, with Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor; Guy Ritchie's London-set crime caper RocknRolla, with Gerard Butler; and Bryan Singer's World War II - set drama Valkyrie, with Tom Cruise. His previous film credits include Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, with Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey; The Last Kiss, starring Zach Braff; Stage Beauty, with Billy Crudup; Wilde; The Governess; Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility; Smilla's Sense of Snow; Gillian Armstrong's Oscar and Lucinda; Ride with the Devil; The Importance of Being Earnest; Girl with a Pearl Earring, starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth; Roland Emmerich's The Patriot; A Good Woman; Ripley Under Ground; The Exorcism of Emily Rose; and Separate Lies, with Emily Watson and Rupert Everett.
An accomplished stage actor, Wilkinson has played the role of John Proctor in The Crucible at the Royal National Theatre; the title role in King Lear at the Royal Court; the role of Dr. Stockmann in the award-winning West End production of Enemy of the People, with Vanessa Redgrave; a London Critics Circle Award-winning performance in Ghosts; and David Hare's production of My Zinc Bed, with Julia Ormond.
On the British small screen, Wilkinson received BAFTA TV Award nominations for his roles in Cold Enough for Snow and the award-winning BBC miniseries Martin Chuzzlewit. His other notable television credits include such long-form projects as the HBO movie The Gathering Storm and the BBC telefilm Measure for Measure, to name only a few.
Robert Pugh (Richard Rycart) was born in Pontypridd, South Wales and trained at Rose Bruford College Of Speech & Drama. His work in repertory and regional theatres is extensive and includes Small Change (Birmingham); One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Coventry); Seasons Greetings (Theatre Of Wales); as Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire (Bristol Old Vic); Macbeth (Theatre Royal, Stratford East), Rise of the Cloud and Welcome Home for Paines Plough Theatre Company. At London's Almeida Theatre he played Chuck in The Iceman Cometh and starred as Helge in their highly acclaimed production of Festen.
Robert's extensive television credits include the recent Framed (2009), Into the Storm (2009), Robin Hood (2009), Lark Rise to Candleford (2008), Silent Witness, Torchwood, Adrift, The Last Legion and Prime Suspect. In 2007 he co-starred alongside Genevieve O'Reilly and Geraldine James in the ITV1 drama The Time of Your Life. He also starred as notorious Nazi in the 2006 BBC drama-documentary Nuremberg: Nazis on Trial and as Harold Wilson in the 2006 Channel 4 biopic Longford (2006), with Samantha Morton, Jim Broadbent and Andy Serkis. Other television credits include Better Days, Playing for Wales, To Each His Own, The Virgin Queen, Old Scores, Inspector Morse, Poirot, Bleak House and Angry Earth.
Robert co-starred with Bernard Hill in Telltale, with Jonathan Pryce and Theresa Russell in Thicker than Water for BBC and with Dawn French in Tender Loving Care, also for BBC. He co-starred in the BBC series Drover's Gold and as Father Matthew in the BBC drama series The Lakes. He also appeared in Channel 4's The Secret Life of Michael Fry, as and co-starred in the BBC1 single drama Score.
Robert will be seen in Ridley Scott's forthcoming Robin Hood. He starred in the title role of The Tichborne Claimant (1998) opposite John Kani and John Gielgud and with Colin Firth and Ben Kingsley in The Last Legion (2007). His other film work includes Master and Commander(2003), Kinky Boots (2005), Kingdom of Heaven (2005), Undertaking Betty with Brenda Blethyn, Christopher Walken and Naomi Watts, Innocence, Enigma (2001) with Matthew MacFadyen, Dougray Scott and Kate Winslet, The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain (1995), Priest (1994), hildren of Icarus, Polanski's Macbeth, SOS Titanic (1979) and Goodnight Irene (2008). Robert's writing credits include Blacks & Whites and How Grim is My Ally for The Old Red Lion Theatre, which he also directed; Ballroom for the Theatre Royal Stratford East, which he later adapted to a two hour film; We Are Seven, the highly-acclaimed thirteen-part drama series for HTV Wales and the drama Better.
James Belush (John Maddox) made his feature debut in Brian de Palma's The Fury (1978). His first significant role was in Michael Mann's Thief (1981). He also appeared in Trading Places as well as appearing on Saturday Night Live in the mid 1980s. He shot to fame with his roles in About Last Night, Salvador and Little Shop of Horrors in 1986. Belushi went on to appear in Taking Care of Business, Only the Lonely, Wild Palms, Curly Sue, Rugrats and Hoodwinked!
Eli Wallach (Old Man) was born in 1915 and gained fame in the late 1950s. He has enjoyed a prolific career in film and on stage, having worked alongside Clark Gable, Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, Marilyn Monroe, Yul Brynner, Peter O'Toole and Al Pacino.
Wallach made his Broadway debut in 1945 and won a Tony Award in 1951 for his performance in the Tennessee Williams play The Rose Tattoo. Additional theatre credits include Mister Roberts, The Teahouse of the August Moon, Camino Real and Major Barbara.
He made his film debut in Eliz Kazan's controversial Baby Doll for which he won a BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer and a Golden Globe nomination. Other early films include The Misfits (1961), The Magnificent Seven (1960), the sea epic Lord Jim (1965), a comic role in How to Steal a Million (1966), the latter two with Peter O'Toole and perhaps most famously, as Tuco (the 'Ugly') in Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). After the latter's success, Wallach appear in several other spaghetti westerns including Ace High with Terence Hill and Bud Spencer. Other memorable roles include his portrayal of Don Altobello in The Godfather Part III. He has most recently appeared in Clint Eastwood's Mystic River (2003), The Holiday (2006) and New York I Love You (2009). In early 2005, Eli Wallach released his much anticipated autobiography, "The Good, The Bad And Me: In My Anecdotage", a wonderfully enjoyable read from one of the screen's most inventive and enduring actors.