Contrary to popular belief, the perfect crime surprisingly doesn't involve killing someone...No blood ought to be shed, no spine-chilling screams to be heard, but the perfect crime, seems to be, a smooth ride in a Rolls Royce to a cemetery, NOT to deposit a dead body, but to take home the prize of a crime so smart, so brilliantly executed, only one man can pull it off...
The handsome clothes, the beautiful iconic ladies, the subtle energy of Boston in the afternoon and the two leading men whose names and faces history has granted legendary status, all possible courtesy of the excellent writing of the famous 1960s and 1990s hit The Thomas Crown Affair.
THE EDGE has scored an exclusive interview with Mr. Alan Trustman (left), the scriptwriter behind one of cinema history's most elegant films to have ever been screened and remade decades after its inception.
Mr. Trustman opens up to Gerard Gotladera's questions and why he "hates" the ending of the Pierce Brosnan version, why King of cool, Steve McQueen feels like Trustman knows him and the real story behind the perfect crime he's immortalized on film.
G. Gotladera: The first version had a sad ending taken from a romantic point of view, and then the latest one had them both on a plane, happy and relieved that after all the chasing and reassuring, they ended up together. What made you change the ending for the second one? Was it your call or someone else's?
A. Trustman: I hated the ending of the second adaptation of The Thomas Crown Affair. I believe it was Pierce Brosnan's idea. I originally wrote a love story about two people who couldn't make it together and I believe putting them together in the end makes the audience feel cheated. There were 12 re-writers on the second film adaptation and I received a story credit. I was so angry about with the new ending that I was tempted to refuse the story credit mention.
For the original film adaptation, the director shot three versions of the final scene. Steve alone, Steve with Astrid and Steve with a new lady. They previewed all three in San Francisco and as I predicted, the audience was furious at the second and third ending.
Pierce Brosnan, staring at his favorite picture in the remake
GG: What I loved about the second adaptation was the introduction of art in it. Aside from the smoother, more advance means of "stealing", to me Mr. Crown suddenly had an interesting, aesthete side to him, one we probably had a glimpse of in the original. How did this come about, because it definitely changed the 90s version? I also read for a Visual Arts class that art thieves are either unaware of the value of the art, they steal just to prove that they could, or they know exactly its worth and trade it in for drugs. Which one was it for Mr. Crown?
AT: I shouldn't answer that as it was the idea of one of the new writers. I thought it was a good idea and as I read it, Crown did it both to prove he could and because he loved the picture. Somehow I don't think that it was intended, but it was my reading anyhow.
GG: What I find most magnetic about your work are your two main characters: Thomas Crown and Vicki Anderson. There is so much depth to both of them and I believe Vicki's a unique female character during those times. Who were your inspirations for them? Is there a real Thomas Crown and Vicki Anderson?
AT: Crown was who I wanted to be. What did he have to worry about? "Who I'm going to be tomorrow?" Vicki was a woman I had loved all my life but she was crazy. And, married to someone else. She is still living and I cannot, in good conscience, identify her.
GG: I know that Steve McQueen wasn't the original choice for Mr. Crown. One of his books (Portrait of an American Rebel) mentioned that he wanted it so bad he sort of "lived" the blue blood lifestyle Thomas Crown had. Was it that which proved most convincing about McQueen or was it something else about the now legend? And how was it working with him?
AT: I wrote it for Sean Connery and was disappointed he refused the role (years later he told Walter Mirisch he should have taken it) so they gave it to Steve. I had Arthur Krim arrange to screen for me every piece of film on Steve and spent a week in New York seeing his movies, making notes on what he could do, what he couldn't, what made him comfortable, what didn't, and I rewrote the character right in the middle of his comfort zone range. He loved it. He loved all my work, said "I don't know how, but he knows me".
AT: Brosnan chased it. Loved the character, was responsible for the remake, and wants to remake it again or do a sequel as I understand it. I wrote the original for Connery, so Brosnan's love for the role is ironic but understandable as well.
GG: The 90s version Thomas Crown---the character, was awfully too smooth and the original in the 60s had a certain charm about him that felt relatable. Brosnan's Crown was always handsomely in control, always cool and collected. McQueen's, however, had quirks, like how he behaved during the chess scene with Faye Dunaway or how he reacted after seeing a man outside his townhouse. They played the same role but were incredibly different renditions. Were these products of the actors or of your writing?
AT: You have that absolutely right and what I liked about McQueen were the quirks---except for kicking his legs and hee-hawing after the first robber, which was the idea of the cameraman, and something to which I objected. Steve had a violent potential and I thought it was delicious in a proper Bostonian.
GG: Thomas Crown is such an elegant name, just like both films.
AT: That's exactly right. I wanted elegance. I still think the name works.
Angelina Jolie for VOGUE
GG: Are the rumors true that you have a sequel in store for the film? One that has Angelina Jolie in it?
AT: I have been told (and as mentioned above), Brosnan wants a sequel and I had a brief conversation with a director's manager.
I have just written something else for Angelina Jolie, Twenty-two Lovers, which you can purchase as a novelized screenplay from Amazon. It is a new form of screenplay for people who can't read screenplays and visualize the movie. It appears to be a novel, but it isn't. It's really a screenplay.
One of the best techniques devised in the film: The Mosaic Screen
GG: I've come to understand that film, like the arts, reflect the times that they were produced in. During the late 60s, you had your work filmed and I believe it was one of the pioneers of its kind. Do you think your work reflected something going on during the late 60s to the early 70s, or was it merely a product of your free time?
AT: Very intelligent question. I was in the process of giving up on the United States and actually left the country for four months in 1969. I had supported the Vietnam war and then decided that I was wrong. Then we had the Kennedy assassinations, Johnson's quiting, market collapse and the Chicago riots during the convention. I decided the dollar was going to collapse and fled. I was premature, but here we are again.
GG: Finally, could you call The Thomas Crown Affair your masterpiece?
AT: I loved The Thomas Crown Affair, but BULLITT did ten times the business. I do not consider myself capable of writing a masterpiece.
For more information on Mr. Alan Trustman follow him on Twitter and check this out.
Thanks to Mr. Saverio Mancina for the interview....