Former ‘Friends’ Star Searches for ‘Trust’ in Directorial Venture
Trust may have been one thing Ross Geller easily shared with his fictional cohorts in NBC’s top-rated sitcom Friends, yet there is nothing fake about the very real dangers of young people confiding in unscrupulous online sexual predators, which David Schwimmer delves into in his latest directorial venture, Trust, which stars Clive Owen, Catherine Keener, Liana Liberato, and Chris Henry Coffey.
Opening on April 1st, Trust explores the dangers of young teenagers' extensive cyberspace personas and alter-egos, with a 40-year-old man lurking online and pinning down an unsuspecting 14-year-old girl. What transpires is a gripping and intense tale of all that could go wrong when such sexual predators literally and figuratively get their hands onto their otherwise trusting victims.
Just the same, the effect on both the victims and the families is unfathomable.
In investing more than seven years of his life in developing a film that took 29 days to film, Mr. Schwimmer told Buzzine and other select members of the Hollywood press corps that he found quite a lot of shocking revelations about online sexual predators and the psychological impact suffered by victims of the heinous crimes.
“I’ve been researching this for quite a while, but this specific kind of crime for about seven years. I think I stumbled upon a lot of surprising things that we tried to communicate in the film, such as the unique psychology of grooming a victim,” Mr. Schwimmer candidly said. “In many of these cases, a lot of these kids continue to secretly contact the predator. It’s not unlike Stockholm syndrome.”
To drive home the powerful messages he skillfully and tactfully presented in Trust, Mr. Schwimmer said there were two things he was rather mindful of--the first being who he cast for the role of Annie Cameron, the 14-year-old girl in the film who falls victim to a preying 40-year-old predator.
“It was crucial that (Annie) was age-appropriate. I think that effects how you receive what you are watching, and I didn’t want it to in any way make you feel that this is okay … for this man to be involved with a 14-year-old,” Mr. Schwimmer poignantly stated. “I think there is a danger if you cast someone who is 18, 19, 20 playing someone who is 14 or 15--the audience subconsciously believes ‘this isn’t so bad.’”
Mr. Schwimmer added that Ms. Liberato’s age at the time he filmed Trust was 14 years old, just like her character, and was crucial to affecting the audience’s response to the wicked crime serving as the impetus of Trust’s storyline.
“There is a kind of inexperience and innocence you can’t act, you can’t fake. It is who [Liana] is,” Mr. Schwimmer candidly said.
Even more, Mr. Schwimmer thought it was important to avoid physical violence or visually provocative scenes in Trust, so as to demonstrate that the predatory actions of sexual deviants employ strong doses of psychological aggression and mental trickery.
“I didn’t want there to be any nudity or any real overt violence. I think it’s more terrifying that there is no violence. There is control and there is power, but there is not violence,” Mr. Schwimmer informed.
Through it all, Mr. Schwimmer finally pointed out that, while storytelling techniques were key to make Trust as effective as possible, ultimately the film is more of a functioning set of guidelines than it is a moral compass preaching to audiences how to live their respective lives in light of today’s youth constantly interacting with the world on the Internet with online sexual predators lurking amidst its fringes.
“This movie, we hope, is about parenting in the age of technology. I don’t think I am about to say what is appropriate or not for how other people parent. If there are two consensual young adults--and I am not about to say what the right age is--I think that is up to the parents and up to those individuals,” Mr. Schwimmer candidly said. “I do know what the law is in the country, and I think those laws were intended to protect young adults. I think a 14-year-old with, in our case, a 40-year-old, is inappropriate and against the law.”
Hitting theaters in limited release on April 1st, the melodramatic Trust premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last September and also stars Viola Davis and Noah Emmerich.