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NATIONAL TREASURE

In On The Plan
Joining Nicolas Cages' Ben Gates on his mission to steal The Declaration of Independence in NATIONAL TREASURE are Justin Bartha as techwhiz Riley and Diane Kruger as the alluring historical archivist Abigail Chase—who both are thrust into an outrageous heist and ensuing adventure they never could have imagined.

Bartha was thrilled to have a chance to work with Nicolas Cage—and to portray a dynamic and modern yinyang buddy relationship. "Riley is a guy who is completely adept at technology, and Ben Gates is adept at just about everything else,” he explains. "What's fun about my character is that Ben gets this guy out of his computer cubicle and takes him on the adventure of his life.”

Jerry Bruckheimer played a key part in helping Bartha to further define the role of Riley. "Jerry had been doing some research on another project about teenagers drafted by the NSA to build computer models. He figured Riley may have received his start that way, which as a background story really helped me to figure who Riley is and where he comes from,” Bartha explains.

Says Bruckheimer: "Riley is the film's reluctant warrior. He is somebody who really belongs in front of a computer but is thrown into the real world and has to figure out how it all works. Justin is a very funny person and he had a great interplay with Nic.”

As production drew near, Bartha also found himself living more like Riley—that is, spending hours every day huddled in front of his computer. "I was never much of an Internet guy before this movie,” he laughs, "but after I got the role, I definitely became one. I actually did a lot of my own research into treasure hunting by cruising around on the net.”

When it came to working with Nicolas Cage, however, Bartha found the quick-witted relationship between the characters came completely naturally. "There was a lot of realism to it because Riley is constantly reacting to all the wild and bold stuff Ben does in the movie— and that's how I felt around Nic,” he notes. "He is such a fearless actor, and he never shies away from any instinct in his performance, no matter how eccentric, and so I was just constantly reacting to him with awe and disbelief, just as Riley is reacting to Ben. It was just a lot of fun getting to spar and joke with him.”

Also entering a conflicted—yet increasingly romantic—relationship with Ben Gates is archivist Abigail Chase, who hopes to stop him from stealing the Declaration of Independence, until she realizes it may be lost forever if Ben doesn't. In Abigail—who is equally tough and savvy—Ben meets his match.

To play such a sharp and ultimately brave woman, the filmmakers searched for someone special. They found what they were looking for in Diane Kruger, who recently came to the fore as the legendary Helen, whose beauty launched a thousand ships, in the epic "Troy.” Recalls Jon Turteltaub: "When we brought Diane in to test for the role, we instantly knew she had that inherent dignity and intelligence about her which Abigail has to have. Even better, when she screen-tested with Nic, she actually intimidated him a little. This really mattered because not only is Abigail in conflict with Ben, but she has to stand up to him and match wits with him.”

Kruger's spirited confidence became even more apparent when Cage came up to Turteltaub after the test and said "She made me a little uncomfortable; that was really good.” That helped to clinch the role, along with her commanding smarts.

"Diane is a beautiful, dynamic actress with a great sense of humor, and another wonderful thing about her is that you really believe she could be somebody who is in charge at the National Archives because she has a real strong sense of authority,” comments Bruckheimer.

Though her character was born in Germany, Diane Kruge

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