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BERLIN (Reuters) - Pierce Brosnan said he was shocked when he heard of Roman Polanski's arrest, but was always confident the director would get his movie "The Ghost Writer" to the big screen despite being in jail and under house arrest.
The actor, who plays a disgraced former prime minister heavily based on Tony Blair in the political thriller, also questioned why the U.S. authorities were pursuing Polanski for a crime he committed more than 30 years ago.
"A friend of mine from here in Berlin texted me a message," Brosnan told reporters at the Berlin film festival, where The Ghost Writer has its world premiere on Friday. Polanski, under house arrest in his Swiss chalet, was unable to attend.
"I was shocked. I was very disappointed and saddened by his arrest," he added following a press screening where the movie, also starring Ewan McGregor, was applauded.
"I wondered why now, after such a long time?" Brosnan continued. "I was very upset for his family, for his children ... I had every faith that the film was going to be, for some reason, made and shown."
Oscar-winning Polanski, who was arrested in Switzerland in September, pleaded guilty in Los Angeles in 1977 to having unlawful sex with 13-year-old Samantha Gailey (now Geimer), at the Los Angeles home of actor Jack Nicholson.
But fearing the judge might sentence him to years in prison, Polanski skipped bail in 1978 and fled to France before his sentence was pronounced. The maker of "Rosemary's Baby" and "Chinatown" is now fighting extradition to the United States.
The cast of The Ghost Writer paid tribute to Polanski, 76, describing him variously as "great," a "maestro," straight-talking, and, in the words of McGregor, "like your mother -- annoyingly, usually right."
Before his detention, to avoid traveling to the United States and London where the movie is set, Polanski shot it in Germany. During more than two months in jail, work continued.
Producer Robert Benmussa said Polanski had produced a rough cut of the movie by the end of August, although he likened a Polanski rough cut to the final cut for most directors.
"So when he was arrested at the end of September, the film was quite finished," he explained. "I knew at that moment that the film will be delivered (in time for the Berlin festival).
"Despite his incarceration, Roman continued to work on the film through courier packages that we sent to him in prison through his Swiss lawyer.
"And then when he was in his chalet (under house arrest), he continued to work on the movie, putting the last touches to have the final print. That's the story."
In a movie based on a novel by Robert Harris, McGregor plays a writer who is hired to knock into shape former Prime Minister Adam Lang's long and tedious memoirs.
Soon after he is hired, Lang, residing in the United States, is accused of war crimes, and in scenes echoing public anger in Britain at Blair's decision to join the war in Iraq, he is picketed by protesters who blame him for waging war illegally.
The writer stumbles across evidence that Lang may have been lying about his past, and his search for the truth becomes increasingly dangerous and desperate.
"My first question to him (Polanski) was 'How do I do this? Am I playing Tony Blair?" Brosnan said. "In the book and in the text all the emblems and all the roads point to one man really."
The Ghost Writer is one of 20 films in the main competition lineup in Berlin.
Editing by Paul Casciato