Into this paranoid mix where no one can trust anyone, the knives soon come out when it appears Lang will be prosecuted for war crimes.
Says Brosnan, “My character is in many ways this façade of a human being who’s being pulled asunder by powerful political forces and by the political decisions he has made in the past.”
And those decisions, the film dryly notes, were always in the best interests of the U.S., if not always the U.K.
But because of the constant isolation of his character -- the former prime minister trapped in a security bubble for the rest of his life, never able to take a commercial flight, and never meeting anyone who doesn’t actually want something from him -- Lang emerges as a tragic figure. A man who is in fact more sinned against than sinning.
“I had empathy for this man who wanted to do well by his community, his constituency and his country. It’s the unseen faces behind the curtain of power that ruin him,” says Brosnan.
“For me it seemed very tragic that he was going toward the fate he is. This middle aged man in the midst of his life whose whole world is falling apart. He’s a nervous dog trapped in the corner and he bites. There’s a sadness to it and when he leaves the stage we all think why, why did it have to happen this way?”
The tragedy of a good but misguided man who’s manipulated and finally disposed of by his handlers cannot fail to move the audience, and Brosnan doesn’t fail.
“The manipulation of society that we all see at times when you sit there and you’re supposed to believe what you’re politicians are telling you and you know it’s all bulls***. We’re in a situation where we’re going to war and sending out sons to war, and you have to ask yourself how is this happening and why is this happening.
“It’s what we’ve all just lived through. I certainly don’t have any answer to it; I’m just a working actor. But the film is asking powerful questions about the way we live now.”
McGregor is amazed by how timely the film is. “This week British politics is trying very hard to mimic our movie. One of the central elements in our plot is that Adam Lang is accused of committing war crimes and has to go in front of the a committee at the Hague,” he says.
“Last week Tony Blair sat in front of a committee there and had to defend his decision making in taking Britain into that war. It’s like the CIA are writing our promotional material.”
‘The Ghost Writer’ opens on limited release this week.