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Setting the Story
In the power-brokering halls of today's United Nations—where wars, disasters and global crises are addressed and sometimes averted on a regular basis—every single word counts. No one knows this better than the U.N.'s highly trained, language-savvy interpreters, who spend their days in soundproof booths making sure the carefully chosen speeches of world leaders aren't misunderstood as they negotiate peacemaking deals that will affect the lives of millions. Usually, interpreters simply listen and translate. They are forbidden from getting involved. But what if an interpreter heard a secret so incendiary, so threatening to the world, that she couldn't keep it confidential? And what if she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that by revealing the threat, her own life would be in mortal danger?

This gripping scenario became the jumping-off point for Sydney Pollack's newest take on the high-intensity, thought-provoking thriller, The Interpreter, which pairs a classic, ticking-clock story of two people caught up in a conspiracy beyond their control with timely themes of global interconnectedness, rogue terror, the dangers of misinterpretation and the compelling need to speak the truth.

For Pollack—who has previously plunged into the fearsome, high-stakes world of a run-away CIA operation in Three Days of the Condor starring Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway; explored love, vengeance and the power of the media in Absence of Malice with Paul Newman and Sally Field; and exposed the dark and savage side of becoming a corporate lawyer in The Firm, starring Tom Cruise and Gene Hackman—The Interpreter appeared to have all the immediacy, complexity and emotional veracity of a political thriller for our time.

Says Pollack, "I was attracted to The Interpreter for a number of reasons. The inner workings of the U.N. and the diplomatic world seemed to be truly fresh, and remarkably apt, terrain at the moment. This setting exposes the personal conflicts between Silvia and Tobin, two characters who come from opposing points of view and can't, at first, seem to overcome the obstacles between them. A sophisticated, international woman who truly believes in the art of diplomacy, in words over violence, who bumps into a cop who deals with the most ugly and base side of human nature. The improbability of these two people coming together inside the context of a potentially explosive international situation and having to solve a mystery under intense time pressure—this seemed like rich material for a film to me.”

Pollack was terribly disappointed when he learned that no motion picture had ever been shot within the inner sanctum of the United Nations' majestic home on the east side of Manhattan, which despite its intricate role in the modern world, has remained off-limits to movie cameras since its founding. Even Alfred Hitchcock was rejected when he requested to shoot scenes of the classic North By Northwest inside and the master of the suspense-thriller wound up mocking up the famous visitor's lounge as a set for his film. But through an extraordinary diplomatic mission of his own, Pollack was able to negotiate unprecedented access so that The Interpreter could reveal a part of the world's power structure never before seen on-screen.

Says Charles Randolph, who together with Scott Frank and Steven Zallian wrote the film's multifaceted screenplay, "The U.N. is really the perfect setting for creating the kind of international intrigue usually associated with classic films, such as those by Hitchcock, in today's world. Decisions made in the corridors of power at the U.N. have a huge impact around the world and right now, the stakes are higher than ever, which makes it an extraordinary place for two ordinary, vulnerable people to become caught up in a conspiracy that seems vast but that they must somehow stop.”

The concept<

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