George Clooney will be in cinemas once more on Friday 26th November with his new spy thriller, The American. The screenplay is adapted from the 1990 novel A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth.
As an assassin, Jack (played by Mr. Clooney) is constantly on the move and always alone. After a job in Sweden ends more harshly than expected for this American abroad, Jack retreats to the Italian countryside. He relishes being away from death for a spell as he holes up in a small medieval town. While there, Jack takes an assignment to construct a weapon for a mysterious contact, Mathilde (Thekla Reuten).
Savoring the peaceful quietude he finds in the mountains of Abruzzo, Jack accepts the friendship of local priest Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli) and pursues a torrid liaison with a beautiful woman, Clara (Violante Placido). Jack and Clara’s time together evolves into a romance, one seemingly free of danger. But by stepping out of the shadows, Jack may be tempting fate.
Producers Ann Wingate and Jill Green had been pursuing the rights to the story after BBC Films had let the project drop. Ann Carey came on board and the preparation for the film was set underway.
A major setback was the earthquake which hit Abruzzo in Italy – the main location for the film – just as director Anton Corbijn was meeting George Clooney to secure him for the shoot. However, the film makers decided to continue in an effort to help boost the local economy and were able to make the most of tax credits available from the Italian government.
The team behind the film also had to battle wild boar, that uprooted specially planted prop trees, manufacture a special weapon for the film and move heavy equipment along medieval streets. Sharp eyed viewers will also notice a black dog, named Wally by the film crew, who wandered onto set every time they called “Action”. A resident of Castel del Monte, the dog usually hangs about the piazza and joined the rest of the local residents by appearing in the film.
The film draws on an international and multi-lingual cast and crew, leading to some unexpected obstacles. Violante Placido, the leading lady, had to work with a dialogue coach to adjust her excellent English for the role:
“She helped me to make my English worse! Because Clara comes from a small town, what made sense was that maybe she studies English, and only so well; she needed to have a bit more Italian in her way of speaking.
“At the first audition with Anton, there was a translation from English to Italian that sounded a bit strange to me. So I asked him if I could freely improvise some Italian slang and swearing, since Clara is a bit rough. He let me do that, and I think that’s why he wanted to meet with me again – and when they told me I got the part, I read the script and saw that they had written in the switch for that exchange.”
The only final obstacle was filming a scene in Rome with megastar George Clooney. He had to be dropped off incognito and in character, performing without any roadblocks or protection before being promptly picked up again. The cameras filming were set up at a cafe out of sight of commuters and the general public, who went about their usual business none the wiser that a Hollywood star had just passed them by.
The American will be in cinemas from November 25th 2010.