Brendan Fraser’s role on Trust is unconventional, intriguing and fourth-wall breaking. And according to Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy, a big part of Fraser’s character, James Fletcher Chace, came directly from the actor’s brain.
“It was his take on it, really. I went into his hotel on a Sunday afternoon for tea just to talk to him. And he was full of this stuff about the guy, and it was a wonderful take on it,” Boyle tells IndieWire. “It liberated [the show] from any resemblance left to a factual account. He was like, ‘we need that.'”
But it was when Brendan Fraser described his character as a “time traveler” that his character really started to take shape. Hearing such a sci-fi term related to a dramatic anthology series about the Getty family saga may seem jarring, but Fraser quickly brought Boyle and Beaufoy inside his thought process. And the end result is a something truly brilliant.
“He said, ‘I’m sort of a time traveler in this, aren’t I?’ And both Danny and I were like, “Oh no, we got an actor who’s gone mad.’ We don’t want any time travelers,’” Beaufoy recalls. “But then he said, ‘I step outside of the story all the time, and I explain the weirdness.'”
“If it’s a Shakespearean adaptation of a historical event, which is what this is, then you need a figure like that, who’s wise and a clown at the same time,” adds Boyle. “It’s like this element that’s telling you, ‘Be reassured, this isn’t a story for you to enjoy’… You need that with this kind of story, otherwise it kind of becomes a bit pole-faced. Is it true? Was that real? I don’t know. Those characters say, ‘Relax. This is entertainment and a dramatization of things we know and things we don’t.'”
Having a character like Chace became essential to unwinding and unraveling the twisted story of the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III (Harris Dickinson), heir to the Getty oil fortune, by the Italian mafia in Rome.
"It’s that sense where you can be very bold in TV and break that fourth wall and have him as a time traveler who steps out of the story and goes, ‘This is strange, isn’t it? Isn’t it funny how rich people are just as unhappy as poor people, just a different kind of unhappy?'” Beaufoy says. “And he becomes a sort of narrative voice that keeps us sane in what becomes an increasingly insane world. That’s the cooperation you get with great actors — they have ideas which can on the face of it sound completely bonkers… But it was not, it was genius.”