Synchronicity is in the air. Last year we had Ridley Scott’s movie All the Money in the World, starring Christopher Plummer as J Paul Getty and Michele Williams as Gail Getty, which told the notorious tale of the kidnapping of J. Paul Getty’s grandson.
On March 25th 2018 the new FX’s series Trust premieres. It stars Donald Sutherland as J Paul Getty and Hilary Swank as Gail. Unlike the movie, the series spotlights the multigenerational story of the Gettys throughout the 20th century.
The first season of Trust begins in 1973, with the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III (Harris Dickinson). When J Paul refuses to pay the multi-million dollar ransom for his grandson’s release, it’s up to John Paul’s mother, Gail, along with James Fletcher Chace, J Paul’s Getty employee and former CIA operative, to secure the boy’s release.
The series is created by Simon Beaufoy and produced by Danny Boyle, who also directed the first three episodes.
Donald Sutherland and Hilary Swank came to the TV Critics tour to talk about their new series, Trust.
Trust, 101 “The House of Getty” (Airs Sunday, March 25, 10:00 p.m.) – J Paul Getty, Sr (Donald Sutherland) ©2018, FX Networks, photo by Oliver Upton

Christopher Plummer said about the Ridley Scott movie, All the Money in the World, that at his age all he had to do is learn the lines. He didn’t do any research, because it was all on the page. What about for you?

Donald Sutherland: Yes, of course, I researched. Christopher is wonderful, but he’s a couple of years older than I am. (he laughs) So he has more experience.

I require the research. But I have to be truthful. I was gifted with a script by Simon Beaufoy that was absolutely exquisite, brilliant, that went into my gut and just blossomed from there so that the character lived.

John Landgraf (the CEO of F/X) asked me yesterday what it felt like to be absorbed by Getty. I said, ‘No, no. Getty came in and absorbed me. I didn’t absorb him.’ But along with Simon, I had Danny Boyle. If Danny could work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, he would. I have to tell you something about our set. There was no chair on our set that said “Danny Boyle.” He doesn’t sit down.

Trust, Season 1 – Gail Getty (Hilary Swank) ©2018, FX Networks, photo by Kurt Iswarienko

Hilary, how much research did you do on Gail?

Hilary Swank: I only knew about the Getty House, the Getty Museum. I didn’t know a whole lot about the Getty family. And my research began really when I got a call from Danny, who said, ‘I have something I’d love to collaborate with you on. Simon wrote it.’ And I said, ‘Okay. I’m in.’ And he started telling me in great detail about them and the story that he wanted to tell.

Then I sat down with Simon in London, and (he) gave me a couple of books and I started reading them and researching them and digging in. I like to do research like Donald does and diving into the people. But really, Simon wrote such rich characters. Every character was so fleshed out. I think last time I read something that was so perfect like this was Million Dollar Baby.

I’ve made a career doing movies, but (with) television everything gets revealed as you go and there’s such beauty in that, because that’s so human. It’s hard to tell a story in two hours. I’m coming to recognize that more than ever now.

Trust, 101 “The House of Getty” (Airs Sunday, March 25, 10:00 p.m.) – J Paul Getty, Sr (Donald Sutherland) and Belinda (Amanda Drew) ©2018, FX Networks, photo by Oliver Upton

Donald, J Paul Getty seemed extremely antagonistic and unhappy. Is that your take on him?

Donald: No, I didn’t think he was unhappy. And I didn’t think he was antagonistic. I thought he was disappointed and maybe not contented, but I never saw him as unhappy. (He was) just deliberate, because he had a very specific paradigm.

He was a mathematician, a linguist. He was a brilliant man, and people who didn’t fall within that frustrated him; but antagonistic, no. He didn’t venture that far.

Hilary, did you find the role of Gail to be very emotional?

Hilary: One of the first things that Danny and Simon both said is that she’s really the emotional anchor. The idea of your child being in any type of harm has to be the most devastating thing ever. To wake up not knowing if they’re alive, what happened in the night, it’s all-consuming and, rightfully so. Everything is focused on saving your child. And no matter what age they are, it’s debilitating at times.

Gail really grows up as the episodes go on. She was finding her strength. She makes terrible choices in men. Why she did that is a whole other thing. But then, as she’s finding her footing and knowing that she has to do everything within her power to get her son back, she gains the strength and almost the self-respect.

Trust, Season 1 – Gail Getty (Hilary Swank) ©2018, FX Networks, photo by Philipe Antonello

Getty refused to pay the ransom for his grandson, because he was logically trying to bring the price down.

Donald: Yeah, if he’d a big heart, it wouldn’t have worked out. It did work out in the end. His logic was supreme in the end.

Hilary: He (was) a business man.

Donald: When he thinks that Little Paul is dead, he says, ‘He was fearless, just like I was fearless when I was his age. And he made me laugh.’ It was that harmony that if he had actually been dead it would have crushed Getty for the rest of his life, because he loved him as much as he could love.

Hilary: Can you talk a little about Gail’s relationship to Chace?

Hilary: I challenge you to think about the last time you saw any movie or TV show where it was a friendship between a man and a woman.

There are no sexual innuendos. There’s no maybe they’re going to be a couple. It’s just beautiful to see this relationship build between these two people who would have never met.

Trust, Season 1 – Gail Getty (Hilary Swank) ©2018, FX Networks, photo by Philipe Antonello

Brendan Fraser Soundbyte

Also at the press conference for Trust was Brendan Fraser who portrays James Fletcher Chace. He was asked how he approached playing the character – click here to listen to his reply…


Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter. More by Judy Sloane