Do not even think about trash-talking John Paul Getty to Donald Sutherland.
The actor plays the late billionaire in Trust, a new FX drama about the Gettys whose 10-episode first season, premiering at 10 p.m. Sunday, focuses on the 1973 kidnapping of Getty's teenage grandson and namesake, John Paul Getty III (Harris Dickinson), and on the elder Getty's reluctance to part with a penny of his fortune to ransom him.
It's a story told, somewhat differently, in Ridley Scott's recent film All the Money in the World, in which Christopher Plummer was brought in only weeks before the film's release to replace Kevin Spacey as Getty, delivering, in a nine-day reshoot, an Oscar-nominated performance as a man who seemed irredeemable, a miser who withheld both love and money from his unhappy family.
That's not how Sutherland sees the man once called the richest in the world, and who kept a pay phone at his Surrey estate, where he also apparently housed a virtual harem of mistresses and at least one pet lion. (More about the lion in a bit.)
Which doesn't mean the actor is disappointed in his own children, who include Designated Survivor star Kiefer Sutherland. "My kids have turned out fine," Sutherland said, laughing. "But it's in spite of, not because of," any interference of his.
One of Getty III's sisters, Ariadne Getty, has claimed, through her lawyer, that Trust, which depicts her brother (known as Paul) as being initially culpable in his own kidnapping, defames her family, and she has threatened legal action, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
It could be familiar territory for FX, already facing a lawsuit from 101-year-old Hollywood legend Olivia de Havilland over her depiction in Ryan Murphy's Feud: Bette and Joan.
Asked about the discrepancies in that story between the FX version and Scott's film, Trust writer and executive producer Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) cited his research.
Two-time Oscar-winner Hilary Swank, who's playing the kidnapped Paul's mother, Gail Getty — easily the most sympathetic character in either version of the story — hadn't seen Scott's film when we spoke in January, and said she'd never met the woman she's playing.
Shakespeare didn't write scenes requiring real lions, though.
So the scene was filmed with the actors at Hatfield House, about 21 miles north of London, "with me playing the lion," Boyle said. Then he traveled to a place outside Oxford where a lion could be filmed in a circus cage against a green screen.
For Swank, who hasn't done a TV series since her character was written out of Beverly Hills, 90210 20 years ago (and whose career has worked out just fine since then, thank you), a show like Trust, in which she appears in eight of the 10 episodes, felt like a good fit.
And as someone who didn't come from much money herself, she found she could identify with Gail, who only married into it, and who didn't have the means, once divorced, to pay her son's debts, much less his ransom.