“The Ghost Writer” is a film about political double-dealing and the relentless search for truth and justice, featuring performances from two distinguished British actors, Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan. Yet perhaps the film’s most engrossing story involves its director, Roman Polanski, from his reputation as a fierce control freak on-set to the reemergence of his legal troubles stemming from a three-decade-old sex-abuse charge.
When MTV News had a chance to speak with McGregor and Brosnan recently, the topic of Polanski’s legal issues was assiduously avoided, but the director’s overall demeanor was ripe for discussion.
“You hear the horror stories and then you hear the passionate stories — his temperament,” Brosnan said. “He is extremely intense, that’s for sure. You have to know yourself and be on your toes and give as good as you get.”
Filming on islands off the northern coast of Germany, near Denmark, known for the type of stormy weather Polanski required for the movie, he and the cast spent long hours rehearsing. McGregor said the director would make sure everyone was comfortable, everyone had an espresso in his hand, and then he’d be extremely specific about how he wanted the action to proceed.
“I think he’s got a very particular about how a scene is played and even how you deliver the lines through the rehearsal process, but once you start filming, I always sensed he let go of the reins at that point and left you free to explore,” McGregor said, adding, “It’s like filmmaking is his toy and he knows exactly how he likes to play with it.”
Polanski didn’t get to play with the film as much as he might have liked after the end of post-production. On his way to the Zurich Film Festival last September, the “Rosemary’s Baby” director was arrested and briefly jailed as authorities sought his extradition to the United States. In 1977, Polanski pled guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl, but fled the country and took up residence in Switzerland, where he remains under house arrest. In late January, a California judge ruled the director must return to the U.S. to be sentenced.
Their director’s legal troubles notwithstanding, both McGregor and Brosnan spoke of their admiration for — and their aggravations with — working with Polanski on set. “When you have someone who’s specific and all-encompassing like Polanski, then you enter into his domain, his world each day you go on set, and there’s an electricity to it,” Bronson said. “He can get a bit touchy at times, and petulant, but it’s only because he’s passionate about the moment and the composition of the shot.”
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