Ever wonder what happened to Ronnie Biggs, the most colorful of the 15 culprits in the $7-million British great train heist in 1963 that served as the basis of director Peter Yates' "Robbery"? He figures in another film, "Prisoners of Rio," which recently wrapped in Rio--with Biggs as co-writer and co-star.
"The title kind of describes my situation," said Biggs, 58, who can't leave Brazil without risking arrest by Scotland Yard.
The $4.5-million film has Paul Freeman (the Nazi villain of "Raiders of the Lost Ark") as Biggs, Steven Berkoff (the villain of "Bev Hills Cop") as his Scotland Yard nemesis and Biggs playing one of his own friends. It revolves around Biggs' life as a fugitive: After apprehension and two years in a British prison for the legendary robbery, Biggs escaped to Paris, where he paid what he calls "the local Organization" almost a third of his $350,000 booty for plastic surgery and a new passport. Then it was off to Australia and finally, in 1971, to Rio.
The entire production had to be shot in Brazil, which meant that Biggs and Polish defector/director Lech Majewski ("Flight of the Spruce Goose") had to do some inventing.