When watching the news back in April 2015, to watch on as the events surrounding the Hatton Garden heist unravelled – where four elderly men pulled off one of the most ambitious robberies of all time – it was impossible to not envisage a movie. Lo and behold, barely two years on, and the first cinematic endeavour depicting this astonishing tale is set to hit our screens – and HeyUGuys were fortunate enough to be invited on to the film’s London set.
The set was notable for its commitment to authenticity, with real life equipment – such as a monumental drill – being used to reenact the break-in sequences, to not only enrich the experience for the actors, but for the viewers too. However director Ronnie Thompson told us that he’s blending realism with a more overtly cinematic approach, vying to find the humour within this ordeal, and play up to it accordingly.
“You couldn’t write it, you think it’s a great bit of fiction, but it really happened,” he started. “If you’re a writer or director, you’re creative, always on the lookout for a story, but generally speaking stories find you, and this is one that found me.”
“I’m not making a kitchen sink drama, there are documentaries out there already and I’m sure the kitchen sink drama version of this story will be told. My version is the version we can all enjoy and all like, I’m not glorifying them, but there is a romance to this. We’re living in dark times with Brexit, everybody is hysterical, I want people to watch my movie and see it as great fun, and want to watch it again, and that’s what I’ve done.”
“My dad was 83 and he died last year. He’s an East End Londoner, talked in rhyme, always swearing, always funny, and the type of people they are reminded me of that, and it’s that side of the story I wanted to focus on. Yes there is drama, it’s not a full on comedy, there is conflict, but it’s the ‘one last job’ notion, hence the cast I’ve picked and been lucky enough to get. They represent the movie I’m making.”
It’s through this approach Thompson hopes for universal appeal, crafting a feature that will entertain a younger demographic just as much as it would an elderly audience.
“This story appeals to a broad spectrum of people. My teenage son is excited to see it, my mum is really interested to see it – it’s a universal story and that’s what I pride myself on, there’s no violence in this, there’s some colourful language but mainly through the comedy elements within the story. It’s OAPs Eleven.”
“Certain people may expect a certain movie from this particular story, my interpretation is my interpretation, but I guess it does make it a bit more limitless to what I can do, because my aim is for a wide audience to enjoy it.”
“There was a Robin Hood feel to this, nobody got hurt. As a society we’re quite opinionated about these things, and if someone gets hurt we think it’s bang out of order, it’s wrong. We club together as a nation with that viewpoint – but in this particular event there was nobody hurt, and people were quietly thinking, go on you old boys, get in there.”
Part of the target audience could well be the perpetrators of the heist themselves – and Thompson admits that he hopes they see the film, and despite the circumstances, even find a way to enjoy it.
“I do hope they enjoy it,” he smiled. “It certainly fulfils a legacy for them, they had a particular desire going in to it to be remembered and to do something that creates a legacy, and what more than a movie. And look at the cast I’ve got, I’m sure if they like TV and film like most of us do, they’ll know some of the actors in this. They’re in prison anyway, why not have a movie with household names made about you?”
Given how much this tale lends itself to cinema, it’s inevitable that there will be other retellings – but Thompson is thrilled to know he got in there first.
“It’s really important to me, because we’re the original. However many get made, we’re the first one. I’m aware of others that have been announced, but I know the type of movie I want to tell and the majority of people I’ve spoken to feel the same, that it should be in the tone that I’ve picked. For what we are and the cast that I’ve got, you know, go make your bigger versions, get your bigger cast, I wish you well and I wish you good luck because this is going to be a lot to beat.”
“We’re really drilling, you know, we’re really doing. That’s something I’m massively proud of, we’re the original and we’re doing that, it’s a big thing for us,” he finished.
As we sat still, in the production office, Thompson rushed off to get back to work – and in came three of the film’s leading stars, Phil Daniels (Danny Jones), David Calder (Terry Perkins) and Larry Lamb (Brian Reader) – a trio emblematic of a film with an impressive ensemble, considering Matthew Goode, Joely Richardson and Stephen Moyer are also among the talent.
“I knew it had to be a film, there had to be a reconstruction,” Calder began. “What’s interesting about the way this script reads and the way its been shot, is that it’s not been elevated into a Hollywood action blockbuster, it feels like the real thing, which is filled with silliness and ordinariness, it’s not been glamourised at all.”
“As an actor you should be non-judgemental, as you’re the advocate for the character, you let everybody else make their own mind up.”
So while Calder explains he doesn’t wish to judge the character, Daniels admitted that the collective who carried out the robbery certainly had some courage about them.
“They’ve got great bottle these guys. Cos there were other guys shitting themselves on the night that were involved,” he continued. “I’m sure the boys inside will be over the fucking moon there’s a film. Obviously they’ll think that every c*** is making millions of pounds out of it, and they’ll want a few quid, though.”
Meanwhile Lamb discussed the challenge of getting into the head of the role, trying to understand what could push somebody to risk absolutely everything.
“What sort of person is it that does this?” he asked. “They’re career criminals I suppose. If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime, they know that if things go wrong they’re gonna have to pay by serving time in prison, which makes them a certain kind of individual, the sort of individual I’m not. The potential for your freedom being taken from you is enough of a deterrent for me, but they’re not like that, it’s a different mindset. So that’s basically what they do for a living, they risk their freedom.”
Before the three went back onto the set to continue drilling – Calder explained why he felt this film has such appeal.
“One thing I find very attractive about this script is that it’s not romanticised, it’s non-judgemental. It’s more Ealing, than Hollywood,” before Daniels joked; “But that doesn’t mean we’re not all shagging each other.”
The Hatton Garden Job is released on April 14th