- Title: UNITED KINGDOM: Jason Statham and cast attend world premiere of 'The Bank Job'
- Date: 20th February 2008
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (English) JASON STATHAM, SAYING: "I'm playing a car dealer, a bit of a wide boy I suppose. But I think it's a great story that I wanted to be a part of, a story of murder, scandal, this link to the royal family. It's a story that needed to be told. It's quite an entertaining little ride."
- Embargoed: 6th March 2008 12:00
- Location: United Kingdom
- Country: United Kingdom
- Reuters ID: LVA6PNX6WEB3BUSUNMQDC2U0DBKY
- Story Text: In September 1971, an amateur radio "ham" overheard what he believed to be a major bank robbery taking place near his central London flat. He called Scotland Yard and the search was on to find not only the robbers but where the crime was taking place. His radio picked up a signal within a ten mile radius where dozens of banks were situated. The event mobilised press and Londoners to find out the truth. A few days later, all news reporting about the robbery had ceased.
More than 35 years later, the story of "walkie-talkie robbery" as it was nicknamed because of the two-way radios the criminals used, made it to the big screen in a film starring East End action-hero Jason Statham.
His break out role as another East End criminal in Guy Ritchie's "Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" catapulted him into stardom and the actor said it's a role he feels comfortable with: "I'm playing a car dealer, a bit of a wide (bad) boy I suppose. But I think it's a great story that I wanted to be a part of, a story of murder, scandal, this link to the royal family. It's a story that needed to be told. It's quite an entertaining little ride."
An old neighbourhood friend Martine Love, played by Saffron Burrows, entices Statham's character Terry into a fool-proof bank robbery worth a reported 300,000 pounds (600,000 USD). It was the opportunity the small time petty criminal always wanted and the perfect chance to help his young family get off to a good start.
The inexperienced criminals came up with a plan to dig under the basement of a shop 40 feet away and into the vaults of the bank. Director Roger Donaldson said an enormous amount of research went into the film, including an interview with the amateur ham Robert Rowland. Writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais even tracked down one of the original robbers to get the first-hand account of the event.
"Well I get completely crazed by making it as authentic as I can.
When I first came here and started researching it, I went to the place where the robbery happened. I managed even to get down to the basement where the robbers had dug through the floor. I managed to dig up photographs of the robbery. I went to all the newspapers. I went to every press archive I could.
I sent researchers into the national archives. I did as much as I could do to find about what really did happened," said Donaldson, who previously directed "No Way Out", "Cocktail" and "The World's Fastest Indian" with Sir Anthony Hopkins. The Oscar-winning actor attended the premiere on Monday night in support of the director.
Besides unearthing a wad of cash and jewellery from the safety deposit boxes, the robbers uncovered a series of racy photos of an unnamed princess on a Caribbean island. The discovery lead to a D-Notice government gagging order, in times of national security.
Legendary British actor David Suchet stunned audiences by playing porn king Lew Vogel, a departure from his best known role as detective Hercule Poiret in the internationally known Agatha Christie television series. When asked what he thought the reaction of the monarchy would be upon seeing the film, he said:
"I don't think they'd react too badly. This film doesn't point fingers at royalty. It was the situation at the beginning of the film, if you see the film, it's the situation, you realise it's about royalty. We don't say who it is. But that particular situation allows the rest of the film to happen. So we're not there to point the finger at anybody. But what the film does is raise the curtain on what happens when the Establishment is in control and us poor human beings don't know what's going on."
Statham was less talkative about Buckinham Palace's reaction to "The Bank Job".
The film's disclaimer says it tries for the first time to reveal what really happened in September 1971 by putting all the pieces of the puzzle together. However, Donaldson admitted that even through all his research, no one will ever know the true events and details of the robbery.
"It's a very different time now. Some of the robbers did get caught but I'm sure some of the robbers did get away. At the time there was a lot of things happening here in England. It wasn't just the robbery. There was a lot of happening in the areas of police corruption. There was a lot happening politically. So the story of what happened with Michael X and the story of Gale Vincent, there were a lot of stories that I don't think the real stories ever really came out."
"The Bank Job" opens across the United Kingdom on February
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