In the cyber-heist thriller "Firewall," Paul Bettany got the chance to live out a childhood fantasy: beating the crap out of larger-than-life action hero Harrison Ford.
"It was great!" Bettany recalled. "But I wouldn't want to tumble with him [in real life] because he's a tough son of a bitch. I threw that man through a window seven times, and every time he landed on his head, got up and got thrown through it again."
"Firewall," out Friday (February 10), stars Ford as Jack Stanfield, a leading banking security expert in charge of safeguarding one of Seattle's top financial firms from online hackers. But that wealth of knowledge is also a liability, and Jack is soon targeted to carry out an elaborate robbery scheme. Ford's character, a pawn in a plot to steal $100 million from the bank, is ordered to find a loophole in his own complex security system.
In order to authentically portray how such a massive high-tech security breach could unfold in 2006, Ford, director Richard Loncraine and screenwriter Joe Forte all worked with a host of banking security and computer specialists who acted as technical consultants on the thriller.
"The idea that someone evil could attach himself to you and worm his way into your life like that both fascinated me and creeped me out," Forte said. "I think one of my favorite moments was when I told the idea to one of the security guys, and his face just froze. He looked back at the portrait of his three kids behind him and I saw that he found the idea very plausible."
Moving beyond the age of old-fashioned bank robberies, heists are now common in cyberspace, pulled off with nothing more than codes and a keyboard. "People's belief that their computers are secure is far from the truth," Ford said. "Most people are safe only because they don't have the things the bad guys want."
Bettany plays the cruel mastermind behind the plot who has been following Jack and his family for the last year, tracking their whereabouts and habits. When the time is right, he strikes and takes Jack's wife and kids hostage in their home until he can deliver the goods.
"I suppose I was sort of seeking to be a baddie in a thriller," admitted the actor, who revisits his inner sadist for the highly anticipated "The Da Vinci Code," opening May 19 (see " 'Da Vinci Code' Stars Break Code Of Silence On Mysterious Movie"). And who could pass up a chance to go head to head with Indiana Jones?
"Harrison sort of has his own genre. He's brilliant at what he does," Bettany said. "There were times I would hit that man in the stomach, and he would say to me, 'Can you just land it a bit so I can feel it and react to it?' This went on and on until I just wound one up and let loose on him, and he finally went, 'That's it!' It was the most humiliating day of my life!"
Action veteran Ford took the jabs in stride. "I enjoyed [the fight scene]," he said, likening the brawl to a "big choreographed dance." "And a little scotch doesn't hurt at the end of the day."
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