Kingpins of PARANOIA
In a war between kings, can a pawn change the game?
To take on the roles of Nicolas Wyatt and his former partner-turned-fierce-rival Jock Goddard, the
filmmakers knew they would need two actors capable of embodying brilliant, eccentric, hugely ambitious
men whose unbridled thirst for power has made them capable of menace and even murder. They found that in
the explosive pairing of Academy Award-nominated actors Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford, who first
worked together on the hit thriller Air Force One, with Ford playing the U.S. President and Oldman the
relentless Russian terrorist who hijacks his plane. Here, however, they would both be challenged by
characters unlike any they have taken on in their diverse careers -- men who once wanted to change the world
with life-altering technology but have fallen into an obsessive, cat-and-mouse game to one-up each other.
"It was like a dream to put these two back together again," muses Alexandra Milchan. "Their
characters couldn't be more different and yet Harrison and Gary are alike in many ways. They are both
equally funny, charming, extremely smart and generous. They both really loved the characters they were
playing, even though they are villains, and they both understood the source of their greed and their desire to
play God with the universe around them to a certain degree."
"Harrison walks, talks and feels like integrity personified -- the very ideal of an upstanding American
leader -- which makes his turn to the dark side in Paranoia so compelling," notes producer William Johnson.
"It was equal parts pleasure and terror to watch him seduce and destroy."
Oldman was drawn right away to the screenplay. "It plays like a thriller, but it's got a twist that I
didn't see coming," Oldman notes. And he was equally drawn to working with Luketic. "I like his energy
and his enthusiasm," he says.
More than that, Oldman quickly developed his own personal take on Nicolas Wyatt as one of the self-
made industrialists of the digital era. "I play Nick as a guy who is working-class, self-taught, and a former
whiz kid who has a real flair for technology," he explains. "The character was originally an American but I
presented to Robert a trans-Atlantic ex-pat who has found success here. It adds an interesting dynamic to
Wyatt has indeed found success in America, the kind of head-spinning success only the very elite will
ever taste, which was a lot of fun for Oldman to jump into. "I said to Robert at one point, 'You've fulfilled all
my dreams of driving a Bentley, wearing wonderful suits and stepping out of my own private helicopter,'"
While Wyatt may have reached the very pinnacle of corporate ambition, he recognizes what he thinks
is a kindred spirit from the minute he meets Adam, and he suspects he can use Adam's smarts and ambition
for his own nefarious ends. "Adam is a smart, low-level kid but like Wyatt once did, he has that flair for tech,"
says Oldman. "He can relate to Adam, but then, of course, Wyatt puts him in a real predicament."
As Wyatt presses Adam to spy into Goddard's secrets, their relationship too grows more complicated,
rife with increasing mistrust and subterfuge. This, says Oldman, is the fun of the story.
"The audience gets carried along on Adam's anxiety as he becomes more and more morally
compromised," Oldman says. "You ask: what would I do in that sort of situation? Would I keep going for
the money? But the deeper and deeper he gets in, the more Adam realizes everything he is doing, and
everything around him, is based on lies, until he's had enough."
Oldman was especially thrilled to create the explosive collision between Wyatt and Goddard with
Harrison Ford -- and he says that Ford took him by surprise in the role of Wyatt's all too savvy foe. "I was
really impressed," he says. "It's kind of a different character for him and he did some really fine work."
Says Ford in turn of Oldman: "I've always enjoyed watching Gary no matter what he is doing.
Wyatt is a fascinating, bitter, angry character, who believes my character, Goddard, would never be the
success he is without him. Working with him made the whole thing great fun."
Ford was drawn not only to reuniting with Oldman but to the rich themes of Paranoia. "I see it as a
cautionary tale of a young man led by blind ambition into a trap. Adam's a kid with a normal, moral life until
ambition nearly overwhelms his judgment and he gets himself into a contest with people who are formidable
and ruthless," he says.
The filmmakers gave Goddard and Wyatt contrasting, individual styles, right down to their cars. "For
Goddard's main car in the movie, we used a Fisker, a car that hasn't really been seen yet on the big screen,"
notes Milchan, referring to the rare, luxury hybrid. "Likewise, Wyatt drives a classic Bentley. The cars really
belong to their personalities, and that's also true of their clothing and their interior design choices."
But the real sparks emerged from whenever Oldman and Ford were on set together. "What was
interesting to me is that both these great actors are quite unassuming and gentle when you meet them,"
observes Luketic. "But as soon as the word action is called they turned into these incredible forces."
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