Like Sony/TriStar’s All the Money in the World, FX’s limited series Trust follows the 1970s Italian kidnapping of scion J. Paul Getty III, but from a completely different perspective.
While the Sony feature follows closely the tick-tock of the junior Getty’s snatching, Trust suggests he might have been involved in his own disappearance, at least initially. So where to go in Season 2 of Trust?
“The idea is to go back to the 1930s to discover how John Paul Getty I became this extraordinary person with this huge hole in his soul,” EP/screenwriter Simon Beaufoy revealed to Deadline after the Trust Q&A at TCA.
Getty senior, played by Donald Sutherland, had a history of being acerbic with his children, and unimpressed with their accomplishments, reflecting how he was considered to have come up short by his own father. And, in his younger life, Getty senior had been a party boy too.
“His mother was interesting. The trust is the Sarah C. Getty Trust, so to be in charge of all those billions as a woman in the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s, she was the power in that family,” Beaufoy explained.
As to whether FX is ordering a Season 2, Beaufoy says, “It’s all ongoing.” FX is “very happy” with the first season, he said, adding, “and I’d love to do” a second season.
Season 1 of the series also differs from the movie in that it shows Getty senior at home in Sutton Place, in Surrey, with his multiple mistresses, his pet lion, and the estate’s pay phone.
“Senior did not play by anybody else’s rules. Why not,” Beaufoy said, approvingly. Getty elder had a “complete lack of empathy, of human emotion. For Donald’s character, emotion was a puzzle,” the screenwriter said.
“He could not understand why people would not react logically” to dealing with his grandson’s kidnappers. “People said he was such a monster, but he was playing a logical game with the kidnappers: ‘I’ll negotiate if they will do this and then we will get a reasonable price.’ To people with big hearts it’s appalling, but if you acknowledge he doesn’t have that facility,” it makes perfect sense.
Sutherland described the character he plays in the FX project as a “deliberate” man who was “a mathematician, linguist, a brilliant man. People who did not fall within that frustrated him.”
“It did work out in the end,” Sutherland noted of his character’s negotiating strategy with the kidnappers. “He got a great discount,” added Simon, though it cost five months of anxiety – and one of the grandson’s ears.
FX announced Friday morning that Trust, originally thought to launch this month, would debut on Sunday, March 25 at 10 PM. This after All the Money in the World was released in December, despite a November decision to pull Kevin Spacey from the smaller but pivotal role of J. Paul Getty after the film already had been shot, owing to sexual allegations made against Spacey. Director Ridley Scott replaced Spacey with Christopher Plummer, who nabbed a Golden Globe nom (Scott was nommed for directing).
It will have been about two years since FX picked up the 10-episode Getty family limited series Trust, executive produced by the Slumdog Millionaire trio Danny Boyle, Beaufoy and Christian Colson. Harris Dickinson, Sutherland, Michael Esper and Hilary Swank star.
Told over multiple seasons and spanning the 20th century, the series begins in 1973 with the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III, an heir to the Getty oil fortune. His Italian mafia kidnappers are banking on a multimillion-dollar ransom from his wealthy family, and cannot understand why nobody seems to want the captive back. The Italian police think it’s a prank and decline to investigate. Paul’s father is lost in a heroin daze in London and refuses to answer the phone. Paul’s grandfather, maybe the richest man in the world, is marooned in a Tudor mansion in the English countryside with five mistresses and a pet lion. Paul’s broke mom is left to negotiate with increasingly desperate kidnappers.