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You're born, you take shit. You get out in the world, take more shit. Rise a little higher, take less shit... until one day, you're up in the rarefied atmosphere, and you've forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the Layer Cake, son.
~ Eddie's most famous line.

Eddie Temple is a crime lord and one of the primary antagonists of the 2004 film Layer Cake. A property developer, narcotics baron and international investor, Eddie wields considerable influence in both the criminal and legitimate world, and is a childhood friend of fellow villain Jimmy Price. Though initially believed to be in full support of protagonist XXXX's activities at various points in the film, later events reveal that Eddie is actually playing his own angle.

He was portrayed by Michael Gambon, who also played Jan Jarmokowski in The Beast Must Die, and Albert Spica in The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover.

Biography

Prior To The Film

Much like fellow villains Jimmy Price and Albie Carter, Eddie Temple was born into a poor neighborhood of London, and got involved in the criminal underworld relatively early in his life. However, where his schoolyard friends parlayed their gangland experiences into a life of crime or a job in the police force, Eddie rose higher than either of them by parlaying his knowledge and money into a semi-legitimate career. Recognizing his success, Jimmy was careful to keep in contact with his old friend in the hopes that he might be able to profit from it; though this coattail-riding habit annoyed Eddie more often than not, he tolerated it for the better part of 45 years.

Eventually, Eddie became a property developer and made billions of dollars expanding London's skyline. His success allowed him entry into the upper echelons of society, where he quickly grew to enjoy high culture and entertainment - particularly Opera; his newfound status also allowed him to marry "a proper blue-blood" and start a family, the couple soon celebrating the birth of their first child, Charlotte Temple. Eddie adored her, and lavished attention on her whenever he could; unfortunately, too much devotion and too little control resulted in Charlotte falling in with the wrong crowd and getting addicted to cocaine. Eventually, she was sent into rehab, where she remained until the start of the film.

While his daughter slowly recovered, Eddie continued his business in the legitimate world, eventually allowing Jimmy a modicum of presence within his social circle. In particular, he made a habit of inviting his old school chum to the annual charity golf tournaments he hosted, mainly because his friends found the loudmouthed drug lord's rambunctious behavior nothing short of hilarious. However, Jimmy agreed to attend mainly for the sake of fishing for new business opportunities, and at one such tournament, he happened to meet and befriend the Energy Minister of a "Tin-Pot" African Republic; over the course of their meeting, the Minister and the "men from Timbuktu" explained that the Republic was rich in gold, zinc, diamonds and a vast array of other natural resources, a valuable opportunity for those willing to invest. Jimmy eagerly signed on as an investor, contributing enough money for the Republic's government to declare him an honorary citizen - and even a member of the ruling tribe. Upon hearing of this venture, Eddie was intrigued by the possibility of buying controlling influence over a government and decided to invest as well, cautiously sinking 500,000 pounds into the bargain.

However, Eddie soon found that he had been right to be cautious: the deal had been a scam, for though the Republic was indeed as rich as claimed, it had actually been secretly trying to put down a major revolution for the last few months; by the time the rest of the world realized how fragile the government's control was, the communist revolutionaries had taken over the mines and were making their way to the capital with very little resistance. Having acquired all the money he needed to secure a comfortable retirement, the Energy Minister fled for political exile in Zurich, taking the investment funds with him. Eddie was disappointed at the lost opportunity but only mildly, later musing "you win some, you lose some" in a discussion with Jimmy.

However, Jimmy then revealed that he'd actually contributed far more to the venture than Eddie or any of the other investors - about thirteen million pounds, in fact, leaving him effectively broke. After Eddie went so far as to break down laughing at the crime lord's stupidity, an enraged and increasingly paranoid Jimmy took this as evidence that Eddie had somehow instigated the entire incident: over the course of the ensuing argument, he demanded that Eddie fly to Zurich and retrieve his money from the Minister by any means necessary. Eddie quite naturally refused.

First Meetings

For most of the story, Eddie remains unseen, mentioned only by Jimmy as a "right wheeler-dealer" to whom he owes a favor. During his introductory meeting with protagonist XXXX, Jimmy explains that Charlotte Temple has left rehab with her boyfriend Kinky and inexplicably vanished; supposedly as a favor to his old "blood brother," Jimmy wants XXXX to locate her - while still finding time to buy two million pounds worth of Ecstasy from a minor crime lord named The Duke, of course.

However, the mission takes a turn for the suspicious when Kinky turns up dead of a heroin overdose. Witnesses among his fellow addicts reveal that he and Charlotte had turned up at the crackhouse with five thousand pounds in cash and plans to go to Brighton; later that evening, a mysterious figure was seen creeping towards Kinky's room, suggesting that the overdose was actually a murder. It's later revealed that the five thousand pounds was actually a payment from Eddie as encouragement for Kinky to bring Charlotte home; however, Kinky decided to take the money and run instead - immediately incurring the crime lord's wrath.

Later still, XXXX is arranging a romantic get-together with his love interest at a hotel when he finds himself unexpectedly ambushed and captured by two men posing as room service, who promptly shove a bag over his head and carry him out of the building in a laundry basket. When they remove the bag, XXXX finds himself dangling over the edge of a half-finished skyscraper, but before they can drop him, their boss asks to hear "what this callous bastard has to say for himself." Their boss, as it happens, is none other than Eddie Temple himself.

Over the course of their meeting, Eddie explains the current state of Jimmy's finances and reveals that Jimmy wasn't interested in rescuing Charlotte as a favor to him at all: he was hoping to capture her as a hostage, intending to force Eddie to fly to Zurich and retrieve the lost thirteen million pounds in exchange for his daughter's life. However, Eddie concedes that XXXX is "a smart young lad" rather than the volatile psychopath he'd believed Jimmy would assign to the job, and decides to do him a favor: thanks to recordings made by his chief henchman, Mr Troop, Eddie has discovered that Jimmy is actually a police informer, handing over unwanted competitors to the regional crime squad in exchange for handouts from Albie Carter. In one such recorded meeting (which Eddie shares with XXXX) Jimmy discusses handing over XXXX on a drug charge that will put him behind bars for over twelve years, allowing him to embezzle the "flash runt's" savings in his absence; in the event that the charge didn't stand up in court, he was also intending to use XXXX as a scapegoat for Charlotte's kidnapping, hoping that Eddie would have him killed.

With their meeting concluded, Eddie drops XXXX back at his house, before driving off to watch The Damnation Of Faust. Enraged at the betrayal, XXXX dons a balaclava and infiltrates Jimmy's mansion, assassinating his former supplier with a single shot to the head. Unfortunately, by doing this he has unwittingly done Eddie's bidding, allowing the crime lord to eliminate an enemy without getting directly involved or implicated.

The Facts Of Life

The next day, XXXX is invited to Eddie's mansion for a conference; there, in the mansion's impressive library, the crime lord reveals that he knows about the Ecstasy Jimmy was hoping to acquire from the Duke, and offers to buy it from XXXX for three million pounds in cash. By this time, XXXX has already found a major buyer in the form of Liverpudlian gangsters Trevor and Shanks, but Eddie insists that XXXX owes him a debt of gratitude for revealing Jimmy's betrayal. Though he is careful to keep Trevor and Shanks in the loop, XXXX reluctantly agrees to Eddie's terms.

It takes a considerable degree of effort on XXXX's to obtain the pills, requiring him to fake a police seizure of the pills from the Duke's gang, then to ensure that the Serbian gangsters from whom the pills were originally stolen are provided with the Duke's head. Eventually, however, XXXX and his allies are able to obtain the Ecstasy, and the following evening, the gang are invited to a meeting in one of Eddie's warehouses.

But instead of being given the agreed-upon sum of three million pounds, XXXX is instead given membership to the highly-exclusive Stokes Park Club; for good measure, Gene, Morty and the others are forced to hand over the Ecstasy at gunpoint. Eddie reveals that Charlotte has been traumatized by her attempted kidnapping and the forced overdose of Kinky, and is now recuperating at a private clinic in Arizona; still holding XXXX partly responsible for the attempted hostage-taking in the first place, he considers it his right to withhold the original payment as petty vengeance.

After discouraging the rest of the gang from "rampaging around the country looking for revenge," Eddie admits that he still considers XXXX a talented young man with great potential and a bright future in the criminal underworld - and that one day, he'll be in Eddie's position, explaining "the facts of life" to the next bright young man. He formally welcomes XXXX to "the Layer Cake," his term for the hierarchy that shapes the world of organized crime, and finally leaves - his henchmen ferrying the Ecstasy away in a separate car.

However, it's soon revealed that XXXX had anticipated the robbery, and made a separate arrangement with Trevor and Shanks prior to the meeting. The following day, Eddie's henchmen are killed in a roadside ambush and robbed of the pills, netting XXXX a three million pound fee from Trevor. Though Eddie is presumably still alive by the end of the film, XXXX is able to avoid any reprisals from the crime lord as nobody can confirm who arranged the ambush in the first place.

Personality

Eddie immediately stands out as a contrast to the other villains of the film: unlike the Duke, he is fiercely intelligent and highly sophisticated; unlike Jimmy, he is cautious enough to recognize a potentially dangerous venture and plan accordingly; and unlike Dragan, he actually has hobbies outside his vocation - and indeed spends a good deal of the film ensuring that other people do the work for him. Having hauled himself out of poverty by sheer cunning, he has gained an appreciation for the finer things in life, enjoying operas like The Damnation of Faust and leafing through copious tomes from his massive library; he also likes to show off his education, at one point asking XXXX if he knows what a remora fish is - and sounding a little disappointed when XXXX admits that he does.

However, Eddie has not developed a distaste for violence, and if his business or his family is threatened, he will respond with a surgically-precise application of force. In particular, Eddie is deeply protective of his daughter Charlotte - or "my little angel" as he likes to call her - and any threats towards her welfare will be met with brutal efficiency. Even XXXX, who isn't directly threatening Charlotte by looking for her, is dangled over the edge of a building for daring to take part in Jimmy's attempted hostage-taking plan, even if it was entirely unknowingly. Even the fact that XXXX only caused Charlotte distress by association is enough to get Eddie to withdraw his original payment - though he does still provide membership to the Stokes Park Club.

Another trait that separates him from other gangsters in the film is his use of charm: Jimmy and the Duke like to demonstrate charisma as means of making them seem more professional - or at least friendlier - but in both cases, the display breaks down at the first sign of trouble, replaced by childish temper tantrums and howled expletives. By contrast, Eddie never once raises his voice above normal conversation volume, nor does he ever lose his temper: he demonstrates tranquil anger towards XXXX in their first meeting, but he never says anything more aggressive than "How fucking dare you?" Once he recognizes that his audience has gotten the message, he discusses the situation with him on a perfectly rational level, reassuring XXXX with paternal charm and friendly advice; even when he robs the protagonist at gunpoint, he never loses his affability, expressing his confidence that the burgled drug dealer will eventually ascend to the highest layers of the Layer Cake.

Trivia

  • During XXXX's first meeting with Eddie, their conversation overlooks a construction zone in the Docklands area of London. This is actually a subtle reference to The Long Good Friday; as part of his efforts to remake himself as a legitimate businessman, villain protagonist and gangster Harold Shand plans to develop the Docklands area via a major construction program - though his plans ultimately come to naught. Eddie, the gangster-turned-businessman who spends his time "flinging up skyscrapers" has apparently succeeded where Shand failed.
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