Their daring robbery resulted in a storytelling film: Gentlemen Burglars. But who are these old gentlemen who hit the headlines in 2015 by making the heist of the century in England?
We are in April 2015, in London, England. On the occasion of the Easter long weekend, a group of criminal grandpas is embarking on the heist of the century! The burglary of the vault room of the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Limited is considered the biggest heist in British judicial history. The loot is estimated at 275 million Euros! The grandpas of the burglar did not hesitate to pierce a gallery through a thick concrete wall to access the cash, jewelry and other valuables contained in the chests.
“The robbery took place with a daring and thoroughness that are the hallmarks of the old school”, in particular confided one of the police officers. “It is clear that the heist in question is quite apart, whether in its ambition, the thoroughness with which it was planned, the level of preparation and organization of the team that carried it out, or the value of the stolen goods “, commented Justice Christopher Kinch, Queen’s Counsel, during the gang’s conviction. But who can be these gangster grandpas whose incredible story was adapted on the big screen in Burglar Gentlemen?
BRIAN READER, THE BRAIN OF THE GANG
Described as “the last of the burglar gentlemen”Brian Reader, 77 at the time of the incident, is one of the most prolific diamond thieves. The man is involved in robberies and burglaries totaling more than £ 200million in loot. His name is associated with the most famous shots of his time. Before he was 32, Reader was part of a gang of robbery aces nicknamed the Millionaire Moles, so baptized because they had dug a tunnel to a Lloyds vault in London and looted some 268 chests in 1971. He was also associated with the Brink’s Mat coup in 1983, the gang stealing what would now represent $ 145 million in gold bars.
A native of humble south London, he was a man who, at the height of his success, knew how to enjoy the finer things in life – expensive restaurants, winter sports, sailing in the summer. An important man, admired by his peers. It is Sir Michael Caine who lends him his features in the film. The 86-year-old actor has made no secret of his desire to play Reader. Like everyone at the time, he was fascinated by the heist, and when the age of the culprits was known, he even said to his wife: “I bet you that if they make a film on the subject, they will come and offer me a role!”
TERRY PERKINS, THE CRAZY BAND DOG
Jim Broadbent (Horace Slughorn in Harry Potter) was hired to play Terry Perkins, the gang’s most menacing and dangerous character. Terry Perkins was a career criminal who in 1983, as he turned 35, was involved in one of the biggest heists in British history, the robbery of the Security Express depot in London, which saw it disappear £ 6million. Perkins was arrested and sentenced to 22 years in prison. During his conviction, the judge described him as “bad” and “without faith or law”, in particular because he had threatened a bank employee by spraying him with gasoline and waving a box of matches. behind him.
Ironically, 32 years to the day after the heist of the Security Express, while celebrating his 67th Spring, Perkins pierced a wall in the vault at Hatton Garden. “We wanted Jim to play a bit against the grain, explains director James Marsh. He plays a very, very bad guy in this movie, the one with the darkest heart, and Jim seemed to really have a blast playing this sadistic but not overly clever character. “
DANNY JONES THE ECCENTRIC
Aged 61 at the time of the theft, Danny Jones already had a substantial criminal record dating back to 1975, with convictions for theft, concealment of stolen property and burglary. Described as a Walter Mitty eccentric during the trial, Jones claimed he had superpowers, could read hand lines, and slept wearing his mother’s bathrobe and a fez. . For the rest, he was obsessed with evil, and spent his free time researching famous criminals. It was during the raid of his house that a copy of the book mentioned in the film, Scientific Police for Dummies, Was found. To play this kind of extraordinary character, you needed someone who had an extraordinary presence, comfortable in the shoes of a slightly non-conformist criminal.
The role seemed tailored for Ray Winstone, best known for his role as French, Jack Nicholson’s implacable henchman in The Departed. “Winstone is a great actor that I have known from Scum on television”, says director James Marsh, “and of course he’s from London. And it seemed just as important, on this film, to have as many people from London as we have from the lower classes. Ray took on the role with a lot of people. of enthusiasm. “
JOHN COLLINS THE CRAZY
At 75, John Collins, known as “Kenny”, had already been convicted of numerous times for theft, concealment of stolen goods and fraud. His accomplices described him as “having the IQ of an oyster”. He would, according to the trial lawyers, “lost the ball” in the weeks following the robbery. Collins is played by the venerable Sir Tom Courtenay, 81, six more than his role model. “Like everyone else I was very intrigued by the story. The fact that they were so old and daring, tunneling like they did to the vault… And I was very impressed with the screenplay by Joe Penhall and by the cast.
I knew all the other actors except Paul Whitehouse, who was delicious. In short, it was a dream job. We were all very different, and I think we were a good group. We all had something to contribute “, underlines the actor. Collins is the least distinguished of the criminal grandpa. He is the one who is in charge of their escape and keeping watch … and he is not very competent. “I think other people like him, although he disgusts them a little. Because he’s extremely devious. In fact, I added a word in the script about him: deceitful. That’s his fake token side. which amused me a lot. It made me laugh when I read the script “, Courtenay adds.
BILLY LINCOLN SAYS “THE FISH”
Played by Michael Gambon (Dumbledore in Harry Potter), Billy used to bring fish and seafood to his family. His nickname “The Fish” comes from there. During the Hatton Garden heist, the hoodlum was in charge of controlling the stolen goods and transferring them to John Collins and Danny Jones. After the exchange, he was arrested at the wheel of his black Audi A3 and taken into police custody.
Lincoln was 60 at the time of the incident and suffered from sleep apnea, bladder problems and severe osteoarthritis. These troubles prevented the old man from working; at the time, he was receiving a disabled adult allowance.
CARL WOOD, THE FAITHFUL ASSOCIATE
Paul Whitehouse plays Carl Wood, a staunch associate of the band leaders, recruited to lend them a hand. Wood didn’t go through with the heist, leaving the ship halfway through when the drill broke. He was still sentenced to six years in prison. At 59, Carl had Crohn’s disease. Other gang members suffered from diabetes, arthritis, etc., which gave the heist a twilight feel, like a final lap. “It adds to the romantic side of the film”, relates the actor.
“These guys take pills and all kinds of prescription drugs, and that gives them some vulnerability. We are not dealing with trigger youngsters. It’s a crime we have a right to love. “, he continues. “The fact that they were a certain age was touching. It gives us grandfathers hope. And then it was a victimless crime, in the sense that no one was hurt, and where the stolen money was perhaps not very clean. There is a little Robin Hood side, suddenly, although there is no redistribution of wealth in the direction of the people. Our heroes take from the people. 1%, to give back less than 1%! (Laughs) “
Finally, a little fun fact: It was the legendary actor Daniel Day Lewis who blew the idea of the project to producer Tim Bevan: “Daniel Day Lewis called me and said “Have you heard of this story?” It would make a great movie. “ And i said “Do you want to play in it? “ And he replied “No, but it would still make a great movie!” “ And very quickly I said to myself ” He is right. Something has to be done “. “