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‘Trust:’ Taking the ‘Side Roads’ of Storytelling

"A wonderful thing about having 10 hours is that you can get off the freeway, go down the side roads, and examine the houses from the back."

Discussing the FX series Trust, and how he approached storytelling to portray factual events, writer and executive producer Simon Beaufoy explains, “Movies are a narrative freeway, aren’t they? They kind of tear up story. They eat through narrative movies. A wonderful thing about having 10 hours is that you can get off the freeway, go down the side roads, and examine the houses from the back. In a completely different way.” To read the full interview, click here

The 10-part Trust traces into the trials and triumphs of one of America’s wealthiest and unhappiest families, the Gettys. Equal parts family history, dynastic saga and an examination of the corrosive power of money, Trust explores the complexities at the heart of every family.  

Told over multiple seasons and spanning the 20th century, the series opens in 1973 with the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III, an heir to the Getty oil fortune, by the Italian mafia in Rome. His captors banked on a multimillion dollar ransom. 

Paul’s grandfather, J. Paul Getty Sr., an enigmatic oil tycoon and possibly the richest man in the world, is marooned in a Tudor mansion in the English countryside surrounded by mistresses and a pet lion. Paul’s father, J. Paul Getty Jr., is lost in a daze in London and refuses to answer the phone. Paul’s mother, Gail Getty, is left to negotiate with increasingly desperate kidnappers, as J. Paul Getty Sr. sends his “fixer” James Fletcher Chace to investigate the kidnapping. Trust charts the teenage grandson’s nightmare ordeal at the hands of kidnappers who cannot understand why nobody seems to want their captive back.

Read more: FX’s Trust Brings Style And Unpredictability to a Famous True Crime Tale

Read more: Trust: Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy Mine Getty Family Dysfunction for FX Series

Read more: Trust Is Decadent True Crime With an Acidic Sense of Humor

“Beaufoy takes a welcome anthology approach to the storytelling, focusing on a different POV character for each of these early episodes,” writes Alan Sepinwall

“The premiere is primarily a J. Paul Getty spotlight, though we also get to see how his kids, grandkids, and the women who unapologetically comprise his harem feel about the world’s wealthiest and most inscrutable man. 

“Chace moves to the forefront for the second hour as he heads to Rome looking for the kid, who in turn is the primary subject of the third hour, which clarifies the what, when, where, why, and how of his disappearance. 

“And though [executive producer and director] Boyle is behind the camera for all three [first episodes[, each hour has its own style and tone: the Getty hour is an at times surreal, at times Gothic family drama; the Chace episode is a swaggering private eye story with stunning location footage; the Paul III hour is a decadent romp of Ugly Americanism gone badly awry. To read the full article, click here.

“We have an entire episode in Trust that is from the point of view of the kidnappers and the terrible state they find themselves in five months down the road,” Beaufoys says. “They’ve got a kidnap victim that no one will pay for. And the consequences of that to their community. You could never do that in a movie. You could never spend a whole hour with the kidnappers.” To read the full interview, click here

Executive producer and director of the first three episodes Danny Boyle adds, “I think what’s exciting are the roads that you can go down, and that the audience want you to go down. When you’re making a movie nobody wants to go down those roads, including the audience. They all want you to stay on–like Simon said–the freeway. But you suddenly got, not just the opportunity, but the encouragement of the audience to go down these different avenues. 

“It’s been very interesting watching Simon write this. You could see that he was on a roll with this opportunity to create a gallery of characters because you have the freedom to speculate about how this character connects to the story, in a way. You can follow your nose on that, the idea, the dramatization of it rather than think ‘no we’ll never have time for that, we’ll never have time for that.'” To read the full interview, click here.