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CONNERY SEAN & ZETA-JONES CATHERINE: Entrapment

THIEF TO THIEF
Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones talk to LINDA GAMBLE about their first on-screen adventure romance, Entrapment.

"It’s a good yarn, with wit and an intriguing romantic element that puts a real sting in the tale," says Sean Connery of Entrapment. Connery plays Robert ‘Mac’ MacDougal, who has an untarnished reputation as the world’s greatest art thief. So, when a priceless Rembrandt is stolen in New York, everyone assumes it’s Mac. Insurance inspector Virginia ‘Gin’ Baker (Catherine Zeta-Jones) persuades her boss (Will Patton) - whose company will lose US$24 million on the theft - to let her go after the master criminal.

"Entrapment can be watched as an old-fashioned romance" Catherine Zeta-Jones

Gin has a plan to trap Mac. But, although she is young, beautiful and feisty, Mac at first turns out to be too crafty for her. Eventually, though, she persuades him to join her in a high-risk heist and the action moves to London and then, via the Western Isles of Scotland, to Kuala Lumpur, high-tech capital of Malaysia, where the duo are caught in a race against time to pull off the perfect crime before the dawning of the new millennium. As the emotional and financial stakes rise, Mac and Gin form an alliance, always staying one step ahead of their employers. But they are finally forced to admit that the price of freedom is higher than either of them expected.

"The relationship reminds me of Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, or Bogart and Bacall in some of their films," says Zeta-Jones of the hidden ties that draw Mac and Gin closer to one another. "Entrapment can be watched as an old-fashioned romance, even though it’s all below the surface."

The film was written by Oscar-winner Ron Bass (Rain Man, My Best Friend’s Wedding), who pitched it to Connery and his Fountainbridge Films production partner, Rhonda Tollefson, in just seven lines. What attracted the actor was that the story threw together two very different characters: the worldly but rather solitary thief; and the young woman out to make her name. They would not normally have come together but somehow, in the course of their adventures, they get under each other’s skin. "He’s a loner who appreciates art and beauty," notes Connery, "and all his life he has been totally prepared for every eventuality on every job. The one thing he is not prepared for is the girl."

"Catherine is game for anything you can throw at her," Sean Connery

Zeta-Jones was invited to meet Connery and Tollefson in Italy shortly after The Mask of Zorro finished shooting. Connery was immediately impressed by the actress who, despite the fact that she had not been able to read the script before she got on the plane, arrived fully prepared, able to ask specific questions about the story and with a feeling for the role. The Mask of Zorro - which not even the studio had seen at that stage - would prove that Zeta-Jones could handle an action role.

"Catherine is game for anything you can throw at her," says Connery. "She is a total professional and wants to do as many of her own stunts as possible but is wise enough to know when to pull back. She’s also a great singer and dancer. My only regret is that we never got to use those talents in this movie!"

‘Those talents’ are what originally launched Zeta-Jones’ career. She started working on the London stage at the age of 16 as a dancer and singer in the chorus of 42nd Street. She was also an understudy and, when the opportunity to take over a leading role finally came, she made it her own and spent two years as one of the show’s stars. Subsequent success on UK television and a handful of film roles took her to Los Angeles. But the big break-through came when Steven Spielberg spotted her in the lead role of HBO’s Titanic and suggested her to director Martin Campbell to play opposite Antonio Banderas in Zorro.

"I was excited by the wonderful sense of fun that Gin has" Catherine Zeta-Jones

"When I read Entrapment," says the actress, "I was excited by the wonderful sense of fun that Gin has. There is also a deep and complex relationship between the [two main] characters, which is recognised by the audience but denied by Mac and Gin themselves. Below the surface is that unchallenged attraction which, coupled with a wonderful commitment to greed on both their parts, makes for an intriguing alliance. I knew Sean and I would fit these roles, and we worked in rehearsal with Jon [Amiel, the director] to develop the nuances and humour in various situations."

Among the many striking settings in Entrapment, the most dramatic is the one chosen for the film’s climax: the Twin Towers in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur. Currently the highest building in the world, Twin Towers dominates the KL skyline: it stands 84 storeys high and was built at the astonishing rate of one floor every four days. Made of stainless steel clad in glass, the two gigantic towers are linked at the 41st floor by a skybridge. And it was this that served as the location for the sophisticated Millennium Eve party which Mac and Gin attend, leaving early to ascend to the top of the Towers to carry out the ultimate bank robbery.

"you could be excused for thinking you were watching Bond"

Things do not work out as planned, however, and, pursued by armed security forces, the pair attempt to escape by swinging across the skybridge, suspended beneath the walkway on wires with the lights of the city far below.

For a moment, you could be excused for thinking you were watching Bond, James Bond…. except Bond, of course, would have been "prepared for the girl".

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Sean Connery


Catherine Zeta-Jones


Connery & Zeta-Jones at Cannes 99

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