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& # 39; Good Liar & # 39; explained at the end: How the stars turn the script over gender roles

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Spoiler warning: the following story contains details of the plot twists and the resolution of "The Good Liar". If you have not seen the movie and want to keep the surprises, we recommend that you wait to read.

Everything is not as it appears in Bill Condon & # 39; s thriller & # 39; The Good Liar & # 39 ;. The ultimate turn of the film, which sees a power shift between the two main characters, is more topical than the filmmaker initially thought when he adapted Nicholas Searle's novel the same name.

At the end of the film, after it appears that Helen Mirren's Betty has been misled to give her fortune away to Roy, a scammer played by Ian McKellen, she reveals her own master plan in a long monologue and flashback scene. The suspected female victim, it turns out, has cheated the scammer.

After he realizes that Betty might have played him, Roy returns to her suburban home, which he finds dark and completely empty of furniture. Betty is waiting in the shade and to Roy & # 39; s surprise she tells a story about growing up in Berlin, where he was her English teacher. As a young girl, Roy raped her and then destroyed her family, leaving her and her sisters to end the Second World War with almost nothing.

All these decades Betty is waiting for revenge, at the last moment of arrival.

"There have been many ways in which I have described" The Good Liar "in the last four or five years since I read the novel, but it wasn't on time," says Condon. “And it's interesting because this is all in the novel and the novel existed long before these events took place in real life. It is almost as if it is an answer to the question that people always throw at Bill Cosby prosecutors: why did it take so long? That thing that people consider an easy defense.

“And the fact is that when something like this happens, you see a character like Betty shut down for 50 years and only come to a point late in life, after widowhood, where she realizes that she has to take care of this one thing. I'm surprised it comes at the right time, because we haven't done anything to make it relevant. But it talks about the fact that it has always been there. "

The scene, recorded on a soundstage, was ready by the end of the production and Mirren only had a few recordings to get Betty & # 39; s speech right with little rehearsal or preparation. Condon used her first attempt.

"If you really have a big denouement, like that scene, you feel the pressure as an actor of" I hope I understand this well. I hope I don't mess it up. I hope I'm not exaggerating or underestimating & # 39; & # 39 ;, says Mirren, alongside McKellen at the Corinthia Hotel in London. “You are very aware of the importance of such a scene. You don't want to disappoint the audience at such a moment. You want them to get value for money. "

Condon originally contained more clues about Betty's deception prior to that revelation. But the director, who played through references to the Second World War throughout the story to hint at what was to come and had included small hints throughout Betty's house, wanted the audience to find the way to the truth like Roy.

"Because it is being bullied as a curvy thriller, I have discovered that some people, 10 minutes apart, say," I have discovered it. I knew Helen was not so gullible & # 39; & # 39 ;, Condon says laughing. “And that was of course our intention. If you cast Helen Mirren, that bit of casting is the first indication that she is not going to fall for this. It's not that she's up to anything, it's & # 39; What is she up to? & # 39;

For Mirren, the power shift from the male perpetrator to the female prosecutor struck. It is a cathartic moment for the character, but also for the actress and her viewers. Feeling powerless is something that Mirren says she knows well, and she was able to use the feeling of wanting to correct a mistake when playing the scene.

"I didn't necessarily have to relate it to the Me Too movement, but many young women had physical experiences they didn't want, they didn't like," says Mirren. "It doesn't necessarily go as far as it goes in this particular story, but there are many, many different levels of things like that. Moments when they felt they were being used as a piece of tissue paper. At that level I got along with it identified. & # 39;

She adds: & # 39; I remember going to a film interview with (film director) Michael Winner. He didn't touch me physically, but he got me up and turned around. I was so shocked and offended because I thought I was a serious actress, which I actually was, and it was so humiliating. Such moments – it doesn't necessarily have to be pushed into a corner and kissed – that was the one that really touched me. I want to have my moment with him. "

McKellen had a similar encounter with Winner, who denied the incident with Mirren after she mentioned it in her book & # 39; In the Frame & # 39; from 2008.

"I did an interview with him and acted for about four years," says McKellen. "(Winner) said," You gay, boy? "I've never been asked that before and I wasn't sure what it meant. I probably said no. He said," It's good if it's you, I think your career was made. "I didn't get the role. Forty years later I saw him in a restaurant and he came by and said: & I am sorry to ask you that question & # 39; Forty years later. I had more problems with it than me. & # 39;

Mirren replies: "I don't think the thing with me bothered him. Not at a distance. And when I put that in my book, he denied it. He said," I never did that. "He absolutely did it. I don't remember. He didn't think it was wrong at a distance. "

Both actors compare the shift in power at the end of "The Good Liar" with the way many Shakespeare toy productions with classic stories are changed by the characters by gender. Seeing a recent version of "The Taming of the Shrew" at the Royal Shakespeare Company gave McKellen a new appreciation for how women are humiliated by men. "That is how it must often be to be a woman," he says, thinking about a certain scene. "Too bad that production was needed to show it to me."

But just like with Shakespeare, "The Good Liar" simply turns upside down an assumption about gender. "There is a concern that people think we are exploiting something – that we had somehow made the entire movie based on that event and that we used it as a plot in entertainment," Condon commented on the relevance of the film. "But I have always felt that because it already existed in the book, it was clear that it had always been there."

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