In April 2015, the Hatton Gardens heist captivated a nation as British officials sought to track down a gang of thieves who stole up to £200 million from the Hatton Gardens Safe Deposit company vault.
Actor Charlie Cox (Daredevil) was just one of countless individuals who followed the story that spring as police discovered a gang of geriatric thieves perpetrated one of the biggest heists in U.K. history. Now Cox is starring in a film about the infamous crime. King of Thieves recounts the story of the thieves, including that of Cox’s character Basil, one of the most elusive and enigmatic figures in the true-life story.
EW exclusively debuts the trailer (above) for the heist film, which also stars Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent, Ray Winstone, Tom Courtenay, and Carl Wood as members of the gang. Though it’s already enjoyed a theatrical run in the U.K., the film is coming to the States on Jan. 25, 2019 in theaters and on VOD and Digital HD.
While audiences can get a glimpse of the thrills (and laughs) in store in the film, EW caught up with Cox to get his take on what attracted him to the project and the character of Basil, why he was fascinated by the heist when it was happening in real time, and whether he’d make a good thief in real life.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Can you tell me more about your character Basil and his role in the story? He seems caught between two parties in the trailer?
CHARLIE COX: Basil is an interesting character because Basil is the only one that we don’t really know very much about. He’s the member of the gang who got away, and there’s very limited information on him. He was the only character where there was a lot of artistic license, if you will…We knew he was younger than the others, [but] we didn’t know how much younger. We also knew he had a key to the building. So it was basically him that started the whole ball rolling – so the question for me was, “Why would he go to a bunch of geriatric criminals in order to pull off a major heist”? I felt like we had to try and explain two things. Why was he friends with these guys in the first place? And why did he not have other criminal, younger friends? We toyed around with a social awkwardness — a shyness, or the idea he was slightly on the spectrum and he had trouble maintaining relationships. As a result, his one friend was this eighty-something year old man.
How aware of the Hatton Gardens heist and the surrounding events were you at the time they happened?
I was captivated by the story as more revelations were exposed. It became almost even more interesting. I remember the morning after, and there was all the discussion about the type of gang that would have pulled it off, and how organized they were, and how athletic and the dexterity and agility required in order to pull something like this off. When it came out that these guys were all in their seventies, it captured the imagination of the nation.
Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent, Tom Courtenay, Michael Gambon, etc. – these are British acting legends. Did you know they were all involved when you signed on? Was that daunting and exciting to sign on to?
I mean unbelievably so. These guys are my heroes. To this day, I’m still pinching myself about it. I feel like I can die happy. Just the idea that I was allowed to be part of that group. To share this screen with them, even for a minute, is such an honor and privilege. Obviously that’s the highlight of my working life. And probably something that I will think of as one the great moments for the duration.
Did you have a favorite moment working with one of them that was just really surreal or particularly funny?
Yeah, there was one moment where we were all sitting around off set just chatting, waiting for the next set-up. One of the guys, Paul Whitehouse, is actually quite well-known for doing an impression of Michael Caine. We didn’t know if Michael knew that or not. There was one moment where we were sitting there and then Ray Winstone said, “Michael, you know that Paul does a good impression of you?” And Paul was horrified, but then Michael was like, “Go on then, let’s hear it.” It was a very amusing moment where Paul Whitehouse was doing an impression of Michael Caine for Michael Caine.
Did Michael approve?
He said he didn’t think it was very good, but I think he was being funny. Because obviously it was brilliant. It was fantastic.
What was the biggest challenge of the film?
It was trying to figure out who Basil was. Having so much information about the other guys and then there’s this fifth or sixth member who’s significantly younger and what was his role and why he was there and how did that come about? Obviously he had to be very technically savvy, because he was in charge of shutting down the alarms and all the technical stuff that those older guys didn’t know anything about. It was important he was sharp and really accomplished in that field, but then there was this other problem, which is “If he’s such a genius, why has he not got younger mates he can do this with?” It was trying to find that balance of someone who’s brilliant at what they do, but also maybe slightly weird enough that they’re not trusted.
What are you most excited for audiences to discover about the film?
The fact that it’s a true story. Often we go to the movies, and we’re transported to a whole new world and you buy into these larger-than-life situations and characters, and that’s entertainment, that’s why we go. But when you take a story like this and you remember that it happened, I think it’s extraordinary – these guys actually did this and now they’re all serving prison time. It’s just awful and wonderful and hilarious and tragic all at the same time.
You’ve learned your fair share of stunts courtesy of Daredevil – do you think you would make a good thief?
No, I think I’d be terrible. [Laughs] It’s why I like acting. If I ever have to lie in real life, I’m the worst liar. I just give myself away immediately. That’s why I like acting because when you’re acting, I can be a good liar weirdly, so no, I don’t think I would make a good thief.
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