Mast fall the story of the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III was told in the film All the Money in the World, which earned Christopher Plummer an Oscar nomination for his performance as J. Paul Getty Sr.
And as so often happens in the entertainment industry, FX was concurrently developing its own project about the Getty family and the 1973 kidnapping of its young scion and heir to the family fortune, Trust.
The advantage of Trust with its 10-episode season, is it is more fully able to delve into the true-life events of one of America’s wealthiest families and the shocking development in the case when J. Paul Getty (Donald Sutherland) refused to pay a single cent to obtain his grandson’s release.
Last week on Trust, that news led to unforeseen consequences in Italy. So, on Sunday night’s episode, Paul (Harris Dickinson) gets to know his captors, while Primo (Luca Marinelli), one of the kidnappers, opens a channel of communication with Paul’s mother Gail (Hilary Swank), who, while willing to pay for her son’s release, doesn’t have the funds as she walked away with no cash when she divorced Paul’s father in order to keep custody of her children.
Parade.com spoke to Swank about her take on this event in the life of the Getty family and what she would do if she had Getty-like money.
This story has been around for a long time. Why do you think we need to retell it now?
Who knows? I know that they were really particular about the rights to their story, which is understandable. I think it would be hard to see your story be told, especially when it’s not in your control. If someone said, “Oh, we’re going to make your life story,” and I wasn’t a part of it, I don’t know how excited I’d be. Maybe that’s part of it.
Have you seen All the Money in the World?
No, but I love that they’re out at the same time. I’ve always been intrigued about the idea of having a movie that would be written at exactly the same time, based on the same story and having three different directors do it, to see how different it would actually be. Vision is so different and particular from person to person.
Gail is like this mama bear with a missing cub. No matter how many people tell her that her son did these bad things, she truly believes in his goodness. What is it about her that you responded to?
I think that everyone has their moment where they misbehave. It’s just part of growing up and Paul’s a teenager. He was 16 years old when this happened and, I think, she has guilt. I’m glad you asked that. No one’s actually asked that question. I think that she has guilt in her part of what made him this boy who has done some things that aren’t in good character.
I think a lot of parents blame themselves when their children misbehave. And I think that she probably has a feeling of being irresponsible in how she raised him and the choices that she made with the people who were around him in his childhood that made him act out.
It seems to me like Paul was careless with his life. He knew that there was danger.
Yeah, but that’s such a kid-like thing. I think kids are like that. A lot of kids just don’t understand the repercussions of the choices that they make. I do think that, too, is part of growing up. Kids think that they’re immortal and nothing they do will ever have a cause and reaction, really. It’s just something you do and then you figure it out and you learn from it. But when you’re in a position like this, it’s obviously nothing he ever saw coming.
You talk about repercussions, but there are some for Gail, too. Because she walked away from her divorce with no money, she doesn’t have the funds to ransom Paul. On the other hand, isn’t it something to be really proud of that she could walk away from the money because she understood that family was more important?
I think absolutely. That’s precisely what I’ve been saying in some of my other interviews about what you learn and what you take away from this. It’s the idea that money can solve all your problems. It can’t. That’s obviously a fantasy and a myth. Her idea of walking away from money is much in line with my thinking in life that family is everything. Whether it’s your biological family, or the family that you choose to be a part of, your family it’s everything. There’s nothing that’s more important than that other than your health.
So, if you had Getty-like money what would you use it for?
There are causes that I would definitely support. I have a charity that brings together those who have been given up on and animals who have been abandoned to help heal each other. I work with a lot of group homes in Los Angeles and I see these kids who have no parents and they live from group home to group home with a plastic bag with their belongings in it.
Education, I think, is a super important one. I would want to do a lot of things for girls and women who are underprivileged and don’t have the opportunity to get an education because with an education you can change your life.
One of the interesting things is that the senior Getty said he was not going to pay any money. There’s this theory floating out there that his decision to say that is similar to what we’re doing these days when we say we won’t negotiate with terrorists. Do you think that there’s any truth to that in his decision process, or do you think he just wanted to hold on to his money?
I couldn’t say. But I will say when the Italian government stopped allowing people to pay ransoms for kidnappings, the kidnappings stopped, so there’s really something to that. That’s what happened in Italy. So when someone’s family member was kidnapped, they froze all their assets immediately and you couldn’t do anything no matter how much you wanted to, and that’s when the kidnappings stopped.
So what’s next for you?
I took three years off to take care of my dad, who got a lung transplant. So I took off ’14, ’15 and ’16, and so in 2017, I did two movies and this show, so I was really busy this year. I have a movie called What They Had that premiered at Sundance and is opening this fall. Then I have this show and another movie that I just finished called I Am Mother. It’s a sci-fi picture.
Trust airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX.