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A thriller with a ghost writer

February 19, 2010 |  3:03 pm


In the video above, Kenneth Turan reviews Roman Polanski's new film "The Ghost Writer," starring Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan.

"The Ghost Writer" is based on a the novel of the same name by genre-jumping Robert Harris. Harris took on contemporary politics in "The Ghost Writer," but is also known for his period thrillers like "Conspirata," out now, set in ancient Rome. "Conspirata," our reviewer said, moved beyond the expected because Harris is "too clever a writer of speculative thrillers for that sort of treatment."

On Sunday, Reed Johnson wrote about the film and Polanski's recent legal problems. Harris, who collaborated with Polanski on this screenplay, spoke to Johnson about the film and the director.

Harris, who proposed the idea of adapting "The Ghost Writer" to Polanski after a planned screen version of Harris' novel "Pompeii" fell through. Harris said that in mid-January he brought a finished copy of the "The Ghost Writer" film, which Polanski hadn't seen, to the director's Swiss residence.

"I took a bottle of champagne and we watched it together," Harris said. As for the latest ominous twists in the Roman Polanski saga, Harris said the director is dealing with the situation and never complains aloud.

"He's tough," Harris said. "I think his view is it's not the worst thing that's happened to him."

In the book and the film, the ghost writer of the title, like so many in real life, never is given a name.

-- Carolyn Kellogg