Trust the story behind brendan fraser’s brilliant, oddball character vanity fair

You likely didn’t even realize that you missed Brendan Fraser until he sauntered out of a Surrey bed and breakfast, placed a cream-colored Stetson on his head, and addressed you directly in the second episode of FX’s Trust, Danny Boyle’s ambitious reimagining of the Getty family saga. With a bolo tie around his neck and a bottle of milk in his hand, Fraser—breaking the fourth wall—gives audiences exactly what last Sunday’s premiere was lacking: some oddball warmth. (This is not a criticism of the premiere, but of the family patriarch— the cold, enigmatic billionaire J. Paul Getty, who was portrayed manipulating his girlfriends for sport and lamenting how his son’s suicide would affect his own legacy.)


Fraser plays Fletcher Chace, the real-life fixer and former C.I.A. op that J. Paul Getty dispatched to Rome, Italy, to find his kidnapped teenage grandson in 1973—the same character that Mark Wahlberg played in Ridley Scott’s retelling of the Getty saga, All the Money in the World. Whereas Wahlberg portrayed Fletcher Chace as, well, Mark Wahlberg in a 70s suit and goofy glasses, Fraser’s bold spin is as much of a statement as it is an interesting character choice—giving him full Texas apparel, a drawl, and Bible quotes in spite of the fact that there is no mention of Chace’s provenance, style, or religious leaning in any of the Getty biographies we have read.

The most physical description comes courtesy of John Pearson’s Getty biography Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortune and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty (which has since been retitled All the Money in the World): “At six foot four, with very bright blue eyes and a craggy profile, he was a handsome man, and Getty, who was impressed by clean-cut men of action, thought him the ideal character to deal with the case.”

Was Fraser’s character makeover a brilliant flourish on Fraser’s part? (In a recent in-depth GQ interview, 2018 Fraser does seem 50 percent more cowboy-like than previous Fraser iterations: he introduced his profiler to Pecas, a horse he met while filming 2015’s Texas Rising. On at least two separate press occasions since, Fraser has notably worn a cowboy hat while, presumably, out of character and promoting the series. Is Fraser going through some sort of cowboy phase? Was this makeover envisioned by Trust writer Simon Beaufoy or director Danny Boyle? Is there literature I have just not seen on the real Chace’s Western-wear leanings? (Very possible!)

“He is a bit of a mysterious guy,” Fraser told reporters of his character earlier this year while, it must be noted, wearing a black Stetson cowboy hat. “He has seen some dark things . . . he is Getty’s man sometimes . . . his negotiator. His consigliere of sorts. He has deep admiration for Getty, although he may not necessarily agree with the principles in his life, as you’ll later learn.”

It is a charitable description, considering that Getty’s head of security was described by Pearson as the primary person to blame in the maddeningly long—five month!—hunt for Paul. During that time, some of Paul’s captors became impatient and tortured their hostage—taking away his radio, killing a bird the boy had befriended, playing Russian roulette against Paul’s forehead, and eventually slicing off his ear.

“Chace had been described as ‘one of the good ole boys from the good ole C.I.A.,’ and since retiring he had worked as security adviser to the Getty installations in the Neutral Zone,” wrote Pearson. In Pearson’s account of the kidnapping, Chace wasted valuable time following dead-end leads in Rome, had an affair with a woman on the payroll of the Carabinieri, and made nonsensical strategic decisions. Per Pearson, “Fletcher Chace was probably the worst emissary the old man could have chosen.”

But the beauty of FX’s Trust is that—unlike All the Money in the World—the television-series format gives Boyle and Beaufoy plenty of time to examine each character and follow his or her story for a bit. In Sunday’s episode, “Lone Star,” Fraser’s ambling investigator is dropped into Rome to singlehandedly solve a kidnapping without seemingly any understanding of the Italian language or contacts. Fraser plays up the brazen culture clash to comedic, compelling effect. Earlier this year, Fraser explained that he believed Chace’s apparent clumsiness was all strategy.

“Yes, he is the brassy American in the room, the stars and stripes declaring himself here and waving cash and fistfuls of suitcases around to get everyone’s attention . . . but he really wants to know, ‘Where did this kid go? This is serious. This is not a joke. This kid is in serious jeopardy,’” Fraser explained. “And he was in trouble. He did get in over his head. He tried his best, but he’s 16 years old. He screwed up.”

Unlike Pearson, The House of Getty author Russell Miller depicted Chace as competent, and claims that Chace discovered in Rome that Getty’s grandson Paul “had frequently been heard to joke about staging his own kidnapping in order to squeeze money out of his grandfather.” Chace also alleged, per Miller, that Paul “was deeply in debt to drug pushers; a figure of twenty thousand dollars was mentioned”; that he had been seen Rome after the kidnapping “and ran away when he realized he had been spotted”; and that he had seen the film Travels with My Aunt, which included a fake-kidnapping scene, three times before disappearing.

In a previous conversation, Beaufoy pointed out Trust’s characterization of Chace as one of the elements that differentiated the series from Scott’s All the Money in the World: “He’s a man with a textured past. He’s on a journey of redemption. He wants to rescue this kid for personal reasons outside of being beholden to his boss, the richest man in the world . . . I wanted to show that he really cares—that he cares about the family, he cares about Gail. He’s not just an employee of this Midas character.”

Whatever the motivation, Fraser’s take on the character electrifies the dark period drama and seemingly marks the beginning of a promising new career chapter—one in which Fraser can explore a Michael Shannon-esque catalogue of strange supporting players, with warmth and sympathy. Boyle and Beaufoy have teased that Trust could last three seasons. If that’s the case, we hope there is plenty of space for Fraser.