The Diamond geezers
East End royalty dominates King Of Thieves, a new take on the Hatton Garden heist
THERE HAVE ALREADY been two clunky movies (Hatton Garden: The Heist and The Hatton Garden Job) rushed out about 2015’s notorious Hatton Garden Robbery, the biggest jewellery heist in British history. The difference with King Of Thieves, the new offering? One: a prestige cast, including Michael Caine, Ray Winstone, Jim Broadbent, Tom Courtenay, Michael Gambon and Paul Whitehouse. Two: the authenticity. The script’s based on police transcripts; director James Marsh is capturing events docu-drama style; and, strangest of all, Winstone actually knows the criminal he’s playing. He grew up with Danny Jones, and has visited him in prison several times. In fact, the only fictionalised element is the elusive, mysterious Basil — so far, the only criminal to conclusively avoid capture and played by Daredevil’s Charlie Cox in an itchy ginger joke-shop wig. “yeah, it looks ridiculous,” laughs Cox. “But that’s the disguise he wore. We’re not making a comedy, but you can’t not laugh at some of the details — I mean, Jim Broadbent’s character, Terry Perkins, was diabetic and was injected in the bum three times during the robbery.”
When Empire visits the ealing Studios set (where The Lavender Hill Mob was filmed six decades earlier), the gang are already thick as thieves. In-between takes, Whitehouse is doing impressions of Michael Caine
— in front of Michael Caine. Caine keeps flashing him the side-eye. Winstone’s laughing so hard, he chokes on a toffee. “Soon as I heard they were making a film, I knew they’d call me,” says Caine, perfectly cast as the mastermind, Brian Reader. “Big old cockney thief? Who we going to get? Michael bleedin’ Caine. Well, here I am.”
Reader, insists Caine, is not what you might expect. “He was actually quite posh, and his blag was unbelievable — the heist he pulled off was like a great work of art.” “And it wasn’t about greed, neither,” Winstone chips in. “The robbery was all about sticking your fingers up at the establishment. It was proper old-school — nobody got hurt. Maybe I’m just weird, but I find the story uplifting.” Like the heist it depicts, King Of Thieves is an analogue film for a digital age.
King Of thieves is in cinemas from 14 september
Top to bottom: Brian Reader (Michael Caine) leads the gang; Ray Winstone’s Billy Lincoln; Caine with director James Marsh on set.
Empire met the cast as they filmed the heist climax at Ealing Studios on 10 June 2017.