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The Characters
Jake Geismer embodies the moral complexity of the time and brings a distinctly American point of view to the situation in Berlin. Says Soderbergh, "The role seemed to be written for George Clooney. It's the quintessential George role: intelligent, energetic, opinionated and fearless.”

Jake's Peace Conference assignment holds little interest for him, but Tully's death stirs his dormant reporters' instinct by offering him the possibility of a story behind the story he's been sent to cover. "I like the idea that this is a murder mystery wrapped up in a much larger historical event,” says Clooney, who came to the project well aware of the realities depicted in the film, having grown up "with a lot of World War II and Cold War history. The Americans didn't want a headline in the middle of the Peace Conference that would start World War III. It was a very tenuous moment. Everyone was shaking hands over their victory and then, within seconds, putting up demarcation zones and fighting over the spoils of the war. Immediately the Cold War began.”

Although it bothers Jake profoundly that Tully's murder is dismissed by those who should be committed to unearthing the truth, he fails to acknowledge similar inconsistencies in his own life. As Soderbergh explains, "Jake is a character who always has a chip on his shoulder towards people he feels aren't taking the moral high ground, but he was having this affair with a married woman, and, at some point, he has all of the information to put together what's really happening and just refuses to see it. He has all kinds of ideals but also an incredible blind spot which means, inevitably, he's going to get some sort of rude awakening or comeuppance. In my experience, people with that problem are confronted with the contradiction, and how they deal with it is a function of their character.”

Nothing comes easily for Jake, emotionally or otherwise, which brings a note of wry humor into the portrayal, says Jacobs. "He's the hero but he's far from invincible. Every step of the way he's duped, he's lied to, he's beaten up. Still, he perseveres.”

Attanasio believes that, in a larger sense, Jake is just lost in the sophistication of post-war Europe. "Like Tully, he thinks he knows everything, but he's in over his head. And being in love with Lena doesn't help him.”

"He knows getting involved with her again isn't the brightest move and he's aware that she might be playing him,” Clooney admits. "But I think he believes, at the end of the day, that Lena deserves one break and he's going to make sure she gets it.”

Lena, meanwhile, seems untouched by sentiment. "The interesting thing about Lena is that she accepts that she's been sullied by the events of the past years and will never be the same, and, therefore, she and Jake can never return to what they once had,” says Blanchett, who prepared for her role by reading personal accounts of women who survived the war and its aftermath. "These women sought to protect themselves by denying their emotions and adopting a gallows humor about the commonplace brutality and deprivation of their lives. In one diary, a woman described that she could no longer recall happiness. When her fiancé returns and embraces her, she's like ice in his arms. When you've been exposed to the depravity of human nature on a daily basis, happiness becomes a hollow concept, and I think this is how Lena feels about Jake. Why did he come back? To save her? For what?”

"Lena is extremely complicated and there wasn't enough time within the story to explore all the factors that have influenced her life,” says Soderbergh. "But Cate is able to convey that in the depth of her expression.”

"The beauty of Lena is that she never gives up who she is,” adds Clooney. "She's like the Faye Dunaway character in ‘Chinatown.' Every single time she tells

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