The kidnapping of John Paul Getty III in 1973 is such an expansive, elaborate and debauched story that it can be interpreted in many different ways.
That’s exactly what has happened, too, as Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy’s “Trust” comes hot off the heels of Ridley Scott’s “All The Money In The World”, which also revolved around the abduction. But that’s where the similarities end, because “Trust” hypothesizes that John Paul Getty III organized his own kidnapping in order to get money from his grandfather, who at the time was the richest man in the world.
Because it is set over 10 episodes “Trust” is also able to go into much more detail than its 133 minute long counterpart. I recently had the chance to speak to director Danny Boyle and its writer and creator Simon Beaufoy at the premiere for “Trust,” during which time they explained why the tale of John Paul Getty III has never been more timely.
What first attracted you to the story?
SB: I read an article in the paper and was so intrigued that a billionaire wouldn’t pay peanuts for his grandson. That just got my writer’s interest, and then the more I dug the more interesting it became. Some stories you read and you just go, ‘It is what it is, and that’s that.’ This one the more you looked at it the more interesting it became.
DB: It’s just a wonderful story. I remember the story. It has faded a bit, up until Ridley’s film. But most people don’t remember it, except for the kidnapping and the ear. The sensationalist part of it. But what Simon’s scripts did was delve into the detail of the family in much more detail than you ever thought. It is a study of a dynasty at a critical and intense moment when they are under pressure.
There’s a timeliness to it, too.
SB: “Trust” is about the two things that make the world go round, which is love and money and it is a kind of parable about what happens when those two things get out of balance. For me it chimed so much, because of the huge gap between the haves and the have nots now. It was kind of reassuring in a way that a billion dollars didn’t solve this problem. Instead it created the problem. The irony that this massive pile of gold was sequestered away, he wouldn’t let anyone touch it, and that is what created a mountain of problems. It is kind of reassuring to the rest of us that what is really important is the woman at the heart of it, who had some love for her son and no money.
DB: Getty was notorious for being the richest man in the world and was a forerunner of modern capitalism. The principles of what he sets out are what it is based on. That’s what they all do. It’s what Amazon does. They are registered in the Netherlands to save money, and what he is outlining is that these companies can't be answerable to governments or states or international law, they need to be able to operate without any restriction at all. The wealth differential is bigger now than it was then.
Danny you started out in TV, how has working in the medium changed?
DB: TV is so different now. I looked at it as a 10 hour movie. I only directed 3 hours of it, though.
SB: He dived in head first. Each episode has a different tone. Can’t do that in a movie. In a movie it needs to be a polished whole. But in this we could really mess with it. The first one is “Downton Abbey” on acid. And the second one is a weird procedural, led by Brendan Fraser talking to camera. It is completely different. And we do that all the way through. You can be very playful on TV.
DB: It was a fantastically off-kilter story, and that allowed us to take it into different directions and play it in different ways, which was mad and wonderful.
“Trust’s” 10 episode long first season will begin on March 25 on FX.