Award-winning director Roman Polanski is best known for his riveting conspiracy thrillers like 'Chinatown' and 'Rosemary's Baby' -- and for the the decades-old scandal that's currently got him under house arrest in Switzerland. For a figure enmeshed in his own public legal battles, it's a little surprising to find him diving into the midst of another international controversy with his latest film, 'The Ghost Writer,' about a politician-in-exile who's a dead ringer -- in character, anyway -- for former British prime minister Tony Blair.

Pierce Brosnan plays the charismatic Adam Lang, who in the political thriller is painted as an ex-world leader now accused of war crimes and as acting as a "puppet" for the U.S. and its policy, particularly in the anti-terrorism realm. The actor recently confirmed as much to Moviefone's Jason Newman as well as the LA Times. He tells how Polanski gave him six photos of Blair, including one that the actor describes as a "clenched-teeth, chipmunk-style, little-boy-lost-in-the-woods, 'I didn't do it, I didn't do it,'" expression. That, Brosnan tells the Times, was the key to his portrayal of Lang as a "tragic, lost, broken man." Award-winning director Roman Polanski is best known for his riveting conspiracy thrillers like 'Chinatown' and 'Rosemary's Baby' -- and for the the decades-old scandal that's currently got him under house arrest in Switzerland. For a figure enmeshed in his own public legal battles, it's a little surprising to find him diving into the midst of another international controversy with his latest film, 'The Ghost Writer,' about a politician-in-exile who's a dead ringer -- in character, anyway -- for former British prime minister Tony Blair.

Pierce Brosnan plays the charismatic Adam Lang, who in the political thriller is painted as an ex-world leader now accused of war crimes who acted as a "puppet" for the U.S. and its policy, particularly in the anti-terrorism realm. The actor recently confirmed the fact that Lang was based on Blair to Moviefone's Jason Newman as well as the LA Times. He tells how Polanski gave him six photos of Blair, including one that the actor describes as a "clenched-teeth, chipmunk-style, little-boy-lost-in-the-woods, 'I didn't do it, I didn't do it,'" expression. That, Brosnan tells the Times, was the key to his portrayal of Lang as a "tragic, lost, broken man."

(Warning: Mild spoilers below.)

'The Ghost Writer' is based on the best-selling novel, 'The Ghost,' by Robert Harris, about a retired prime minister's memoirs writer whose predecessor died under mysterious circumstances. What the no-name "ghost" (Ewan McGregor) discovers is a far-reaching conspiracy involving Lang and American political forces, which would explain why he sanctioned what's now being regarded as a war crime: The kidnapping and waterboard interrogation of British citizens.

When the torture scandal breaks, Lang, his wife Ruth (Olivia Williams), and his entire entourage are holed up in a remote retreat off the coast of New England. They argue over the best course of action to maintain appearances: return to London, fly to Washington D.C. for some media spin or lie low?

This is when the thinly veiled shots at Blair come at breakneck speed. Brosnan's wife urges him to stay put and that running to Washington D.C. will only make him look like "a child running home to Daddy." Lang's chief political rival points out to McGregor that Lang never made a decision that didn't benefit the United States. Blair's own ouster was widely seen as backlash to his chumminess with the U.S. (An angle that was skewered in 'Love Actually,' where the British PM, played by Hugh Grant, earns riotous applause for telling the U.S. president, a Bush-like Billy Bob Thornton, where to get off.)



No one has missed the pointed irony that a film about a disgraced world leader living in exile is directed by Polanski, who's currently incarcerated in Switzerland pending extradition for 30-year-old charges of statutory rape. Polanski can't have failed to identify with Lang, or his worry about being tried in a "kangaroo court." At one point, McGregor's character speculates that Lang can simply retire and live on in America on his supposed CIA pension. While it appears that Lang might get off scott-free, in the real world, Blair's been accused of his own war crimes and Polanski's legal fate remains an open question.

Polanski has not done press for his latest film and his actors are cagey about his situation. Brosnan remarked, "I know the dark controversy around his life," but that the two "spoke briefly about the loss of wives. I lost a wife, and this man lost his wife in the most barbaric fashion," referring to Sharon Tate's death at the hands of Charles Manson's followers. Williams offered "no comment," while Harris, who sought Polanski out for the film, says, "I think his view is it's not the worst thing that's happened to him."

'The Ghost Writer' is currently playing in limited release in New York and Los Angeles.

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