When the stars of the anti-banking thriller The International came to Loews Lincoln Center on Monday night for the Cinema Society premiere of the film, they might have been the only ones in New York celebrating the financial fallout.
"It’s an incredibly timely movie," said star Clive Owen, who plays an Interpol agent tracking a German bank that’s financing international terrorism. "It was always a relevant film, but we couldn’t believe how timely it’s become since we finished the film."
Screenwriter Eric Singer was more succinct. "It is fucking surreal," he said of how the context has changed in the years since he penned the script. "What’s happening today is cataclysmic, it’s real and it’s fucking scary. But the benefit maybe for this film is that people are a little more aware of the impact banks have on our everyday lives."
So how do The International‘s villains compare with Wall Street’s new villains?
"They’re just as bad, if not worse," Mr. Singer said.
Naomi Watts, who strolled the red carpet in a black dress by Thierry Mugler, plays perhaps the best-looking prosecutor in the history of New York (no offense, Rudy!). "I met with a district attorney who lives here in Manhattan and he described what it’s like in the office," Ms. Watts said of preparing for the role. "It’s very much a man’s world."
Ms. Watts said there was no way she could hack it in a real Manhattan court. "I’m not that tough," she said. "I don’t like fighting."
Behind the red carpet, The International‘s movie poster showed Mr. Owen and Ms. Watts hurrying through the Guggenheim’s circular rotunda as Mr. Owen clutches a gun and prepares to put a few holes in the storied museum.
"We only shot in there for two days, but it was a pretty incredible sequence," Mr. Owen said.
Why go after the Guggenheim, the Transom wondered?
"I went to a Matthew Barney show at the Guggenheim years ago and I looked at the spiral nature and thought this would be a great place for a gunfight, and I just put that in my pocket and kept it there until I could actually pull it out and do something with it," said Mr. Singer.
Ah, so Mr. Barney’s piles of sludge inspired this violence.
"No, I love Matthew Barney!" Mr. Singer insisted. "I think he’s a trip."
Producer Richard Suckle said the Guggenheim wasn’t totally keen on an action sequence.
"Eric Singer wrote that into the script many, many years ago, and we didn’t really have much of a backup," Mr. Suckle said. "So it was really like a two-year negotiation just to get them to let us come in and shoot for a day. But they also gave us the permission to re-create the Guggenheim." So, Suckle and company built a four-story replica, at 98 percent scale, in Berlin, and they shot up that instead.
So, if your bank might be trying to kill you, what are you doing with all the loot from the film, the Transom wondered?
"Fuckin’ under my mattress. I’m a writer; it’s not like I have that much money. I’m sweating it like everybody else," Mr. Singer said.
Well, not everybody. For those who are still making money, those piles can get awful lumpy.
"I certainly don’t keep it under my pillow," said Mr. Owen. "You’ve got to trust somebody."
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