When Roman Polanski was arrested September 2009 in Switzerland, post-production was never put on hold. He saw every step of the film and made all artistic decisions. He finished editing the movie while in a Swiss prison. In December 2009 Polanski was released on bail but placed under house arrest, where he remained when this movie was released.Ewan McGregor has said that the script never named his character, so in his head, his character name was Gordon McFarquor. The credits simply list him as The Ghost.
Largely because Roman Polanski could not set foot in the United States, filming took place in Germany made to look like Massachusetts.
Some part of the movie was filmed on the German island of Sylt as a stand in for Martha’s Vineyard. To look more American it was dressed up with an attention to details: American style cars, US signage, added telephone poles (phone and energy lines run mostly underground in Germany), wooden houses, American extras, etc.
Writer Robert Harris is a former BBC TV reporter and political columnist who actively supported Tony Blair until the Iraq War, which Harris felt was a mistake. Blair resigned June 26, 2007, spurring Harris to drop his other work to write The Ghost, which was published Sept. 26. Similarities between Blair and Adam Lang, Cherie Blair and Ruth Lang, Hatherton and Halliburton, etc. are clearly intentional. Mo Asumang appears briefly as a Condoleezza Rice look-a-like Secretary of State in a photo op with Lang.
Although the studio advised the stars to avoid commenting directly on the arrest of Roman Polanski, Pierce Brosnan said during a promotional interview, “It’s sad for all concerned, but it’s also heightened the movie. The movie’s in the can, he’s in the can.”
The end title designer forgot to use punctuation when writing the end credits. This resulted in all assistants being listed as i.e. “ass designer” or “ass painter”.
Peter Travers of ROLLING STONE wrote:
In the craptacular month of February, when Hollywood typically drowns us in all-star drool like Valentine’s Day, it’s indecent luck having two films in play directed by indisputable masters. First Scorsese’s Shutter Island, and now Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer. The Polish director, currently under house arrest in Switzerland awaiting possible extradition to the U.S. for having unlawful sex with a minor in 1977, is in deep doo-doo. But not, in this critic’s view, as a filmmaker. The Ghost Writer, based on the Robert Harris bestseller, shows Polanski in brilliant command of a political thriller that ties you up in knots of tension while zinging politics and showbiz like two sides of the same toxic coin.
Polanski’s skill with actors hasn’t waned. Even the smallest roles are expertly played. Timothy Hutton scores as Lang’s American lawyer, and Jim Belushi nails the role of the Ghost’s scandal-hungry publisher. Best of all is Tom Wilkinson as Paul Emmet, a Harvard law professor whom the Ghost believes holds the key to Lang’s links with the CIA. After an action-packed pursuit of the Ghost on a ferry, the movie ends on a note of shocking challenge. You can feel Polanski’s excitement to be working on a film that echoes 1970s classics such as Three Days of the Condor and The Parallax View. Whatever happens to Polanski in real life, his reel life is in excellent shape. The Ghost Writer is one of his diabolical best.
So film club members and movie buffs, get off your duffs and get your bad selves the Grand Theater and see this film!