FX is delving into the John Paul Getty III kidnapping case in the new series, Trust. Set to premiere on Sunday, March 25, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT, Trust is based on a true story and chronicles the events leading up to and transpiring over the course of the kidnapping and ransom of the grandson of billionaire John Paul Getty.
The star-studded Trust cast includes Donald Sutherland as J. Paul Getty Sr, Hilary Swank as Gail Getty, Harris Dickinson as John Paul Getty III, and Brendan Fraser as James Fletcher Chace. Laura Bellini and Sarah Bellini co-star as Martine Zacher and Jutta Winklemann, two interesting women who played important roles in John Paul Getty III’s life.
In support of the series’ upcoming premiere, sisters Sarah Bellini and Laura Bellini teamed up for a phone interview to discuss their characters and the world that’s explored in Trust. Sarah and Laura Bellini also talked about working with director/executive producer Danny Boyle and series creator/writer Simon Beaufoy.
Laura Bellini and Sarah Bellini Trust Exclusive Interview:
How would you describe the series?
Sarah Bellini: “I would say Trust is the story of the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III, the grandson of John Paul Getty. It’s set in 1973 in Rome and it’s a tragic saga, a family history, but definitely a story that shows what terrifying and corrosive power money has.”
What did you know about the Getty kidnapping before you signed on to Trust?
Laura Bellini: “Initially, actually, I didn’t know much. Of course I’ve heard the Getty name and since we both live in LA now, we’ve heard about Getty Images, the Getty Museum, and the Getty Villa. But we hadn’t really heard anything about the kidnapping since it happened in the ‘70s and we weren’t born then. But, when we got the audition and started researching, we talked to our parents. Our dad is from Italy and remembers the time very vividly and the whole incident, so that was very helpful.”
Your characters are based on real women. Did you do a lot of research into their lives?
Sarah Bellini: “Yes, we did. I mean, we were lucky because we actually spent an entire month in Germany before we started shooting in Rome. So, we read their biographies and we talked to our grandparents and to a lot of elder people who actually experienced the counter-culture, the ’68 revolution in Germany. We watched a lot of documentaries about that time. We definitely studied a lot about Jutta Winkelmann and Martine Zacher lives and their biographies. Unfortunately, only one of them is still alive. My character, she passed away last February so only Laura’s character is still alive.”
It’s interesting to delve back into the ‘70s and slip into the makeup and clothing of that time period. What did you find was the most fascinating thing to explore about that era?
Laura Bellini: “It was actually fascinating how helpful costume and makeup and the entire look could be for an actor. We always knew that but since this was a period piece, it was really great to get the sense of free love, wild adventure, and that women empowerment that women felt during that time. That rebellion and just revolutionary time – that was definitely amazing to see how costumes could help you to get that sense of that time period. So, I think for me that was the most fascinating or exciting was to feel that women empowerment and that rebellion.”
How difficult was it to try and connect with the 1970s and feel at home in that time period?
Sarah Bellini: “I think it was very difficult and challenging, not only because it’s a period piece but also because everything is based on true events so our characters were real people. I thought that was very scary at first and challenging. I had a lot of respect playing someone who is actually real and things that had actually happened. But, I feel like it’s also very exciting to go back in time and to live at a different time again.”
Laura Bellini: “It was definitely helpful to listen to a lot of the music of the ‘70s. We listened to a lot of that music and we looked into the songwriting since music had a big influence on people’s lives and values during that time. I think that helped, for sure. And, we watched a lot of films and documentaries that influenced Europe back then but that were also popular in Germany from Germany. To get that sense of that time was definitely very helpful to watch a lot of documentaries and movies.”
Why do think it is that people are still fascinated with the John Paul Getty III kidnapping?
Laura Bellini: “I think that in general it talks about the universal theme of greed and power and the corrosive power of money, and how money can change people and their values. I feel like especially nowadays we live in a very materialistic world where social media has a very big importance, and I think people shouldn’t forget what money can do and how money can change people. I think that this story – the Getty story – is a relevant example and reminder for all that and that money can’t buy happiness and true love.”
Sarah Bellini: “And I think that everybody kind of knows about the Gettys. Like me, for example, I knew about them but not the whole story behind them. Their story is so fascinating. They were the most wealthy – and still are one of the most wealthy – families in the world. This kidnapping was probably the most famous kidnapping of all time, so I think it’s just interesting to hear the story, in general.”
You share a lot of scenes with Harrison Dickinson as John Paul Getty III. Can you talk about working with him?
Laura Bellini: “It was definitely so much fun and amazing. He’s such a kindhearted and genuine person. He’s so talented. Rehearsing with him before we started to shoot everything was so helpful.”
Sarah Bellini: “We had a lot of fun.”
I’ve watched the first three episodes and some of your scenes look pretty difficult, physically and emotionally. Were there a lot of tough days on the set?
Sarah Bellini: “Yeah, definitely, especially the first week. I remember the first weeks of shooting were really challenging just because there were a lot of emotional scenes and just tough scenes, long days. The stakes were high. But since we just love acting – it’s really our passion – we just always enjoyed it. It was such an amazing experience. We learned so much from watching our co-actors since there were so many talented actors involved. It was hard, but it was still fun.”
Trust comes from the 127 Hours and Slumdog Millionaire team of writer Simon Beaufoy and director Danny Boyle. Can you talk about working with them on Trust?
Sarah Bellini: “Simon is such a wonderful writer. I remember when I was first reading the scripts, I was blown away. I was so electrified because his scripts are so surprising and funny and nuanced. I feel like he makes it so easy for us as actors because his words are so real and truthful. I feel like that authenticity makes it universally understood. You, as the audience, also feel involved right from the start. He’s just brilliant.”
Laura Bellini: “Of course working with Danny was amazing, as well. He made me feel really comfortable on set. Just watching him…I mean he has so much energy and he brings so much motivation and positive energy to the set. I’ve really never seen that in a director. It just creates such a wonderful working atmosphere for everyone. Everybody is really motivated to give their best and to create such wonderful work.”
The Trust Plot: Told over multiple seasons and spanning the twentieth century, the series begins in 1973 with the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III (Dickinson), an heir to the Getty oil fortune, by the Italian mafia in Rome. His captors banked on a multi-million-dollar ransom. After all, what rich family wouldn’t pay for the return of a loved one?
Paul’s grandfather, J. Paul Getty Sr. (Sutherland), an enigmatic oil tycoon and possibly the richest man in the world, is marooned in a Tudor mansion in the English countryside surrounded by a harem of mistresses and a pet lion. He’s busy. Paul’s father, J. Paul Getty Jr. (Michael Esper), is lost in a daze in London and refuses to answer the phone. Only Paul’s mother, Gail Getty (Swank), is left to negotiate with the increasingly desperate kidnappers. Unfortunately, she’s broke. Trust charts the teenage grandson’s nightmare ordeal at the hands of kidnappers who cannot understand why nobody seems to want their captive back.
More on Trust:
- Recap of Trust Season 1 Episode 1 “The House of Getty”
- Recap of Trust Season 1 Episode 2 “Lone Star”
- Recap of Trust Season 1 Episode 3 “La Dolce Vita”
- Recap of Trust Season 1 Episode 4 “That’s All Folks”
- Recap of Trust Season 1 Episode 5 “Silenzio”