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Background on ’The Interpreter’

Wednesday 26 October 2005, by Sarah Ridout

From Academy Award® winner SYDNEY POLLACK, the director behind some of the most compelling and provocative thrillers of the last two decades (Three Days of the Condor, Absence of Malice, The Firm), comes a fresh take on contemporary suspense: an intricate, knife’s-edge drama that unfolds against our 21st Century world of international terror and inside the United Nations’ hidden corridors of power.

Academy Award® winners NICOLE KIDMAN and SEAN PENN star in The Interpreter, the story of two opposite people who unexpectedly collide within a maze of mounting paranoia, personal secrets and explosive global events.

Shot on location in Manhattan and Southern Africa, The Interpreter is the first motion picture in history to receive inside access to the United Nations’ headquarters (which is officially international territory) in New York.

The escalating events begin when African-born U.N. translator Silvia Broome (Kidman) alleges that she has overheard a death threat against an African head of state, spoken in a rare dialect few people other than Silvia can understand. With the words "The Teacher will never leave this room alive," in an instant, Silvia’s life is turned upside down as she becomes a hunted target of the killers. Placed under the protection of federal agent Tobin Keller (Penn), Silvia’s world only grows more nightmarish.

As Keller digs deeper into his eyewitness’ past and her secretive world of global connections, the more suspicious he becomes that she herself might be involved in the conspiracy. With every step of the way, he finds more reasons to mistrust her. Is Sylvia a victim? A suspect? Or something else entirely? And can Tobin, coping with his own personal heartache, keep her safe?

Though they must depend on one another, Silvia and Tobin couldn’t be more different. Silvia’s strengths are words, diplomacy and the subtleties of meaning, while Tobin is all about instinct, action and reading into the most primal human behaviors.

Now, as the danger of a major assassination on U.S. soil grows and Silvia’s life hangs in the balance, Silvia and Tobin play out a gripping dance of evasion and revelation that keeps them both guessing as they race to stop a terrifying international crisis before it’s too late.

Says Pollack, "I was attracted to The Interpreter for a number of reasons. The inner workings of the U.N. and the diplomatic world seemed to be truly fresh, and remarkably apt, terrain at the moment. This setting exposes the personal conflicts between Silvia and Tobin, two characters who come from opposing points of view and can’t, at first, seem to overcome the obstacles between them.

A sophisticated, international woman who truly believes in the art of diplomacy, in words over violence, who bumps into a cop who deals with the most ugly and base side of human nature. The improbability of these two people coming together inside the context of a potentially explosive international situation and having to solve a mystery under intense time pressure-this seemed like rich material for a film to me."

Universal Pictures presents The Interpreter, a Working Title production in association with Misher Films and Mirage Entertainment of a Sydney Pollack film, produced by Working Title’s TIM BEVAN and ERIC FELLNER, and KEVIN MISHER. The film is directed by Sydney Pollack, with a screenplay written by CHARLES RANDOLPH (The Life of David Gale) and SCOTT FRANK (Minority Report) and STEVEN ZAILLIAN (Schindler’s List) from a story by MARTIN STELLMAN and BRIAN WARD. Academy Award® nominee CATHERINE KEENER (Being John Malkovich) co-stars. Executive producers are Pollack, ANTHONY MINGHELLA (Cold Mountain) and G. MAC BROWN (Unfaithful). LIZA CHASIN and DEBRA HAYWARD co-produce.

Collaborating with Pollack in capturing this world of global diplomacy and power on-screen are director of photography DARIUS KHONDJI (Panic Room, Seven); production designer JON HUTMAN (Something’s Gotta Give, The Horse Whisperer); costume designer SARAH EDWARDS (Uptown Girls, Igby Goes Down); and editor WILLIAM STEINKAMP, Pollack’s collaborator on such films as Tootsie and Out of Africa. JAMES NEWTON HOWARD (The Village, Collateral) serves as composer.



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