KING'S RANSOM — Anthony Anderson, Jay Mohr, Regina King; rated PG-13 (vulgarity, sex, profanity, slapstick violence); Carmike Ritz 15 Theaters; Century Theatres 16; Cinemark 24 at Jordan Landing; Megaplex 12 at the Gateway; Megaplex 17 at Jordan Commons.

NEW YORK — Director Sydney Pollack thought he knew every angle to New York, having shot romances, comedies and dramas here. But while making "The Interpreter," which opened Friday, he discovered the United Nations.

"Like a lot of New Yorkers, I assumed that I knew all about the U.N.," says Pollack, who has an apartment on East 54th Street that overlooks the organization's East Side headquarters. "I was shocked to find out it's not like anything I had in mind. There are only six languages accepted there. It's considered international territory.

"And the biggest surprise was how affected I was by the General Assembly room. When we filmed in there, everyone could feel how it was created during a more hopeful time."

In the film, Nicole Kidman plays a South African language specialist who overhears an assassination plot. Sean Penn is the troubled federal agent investigating her claim.

Pollack, 70 — a native of South Bend, Ind., who moved to New York at 17 to study acting — has filmed some of his greatest movies here, including "The Way We Were" (1973), "Three Days of the Condor" (1975) and "Tootsie" (1982). He says he never tires of finding ways to photograph the city.

"For some reason, you never feel like you're repeating, and yet you are. It's the same buildings, same hustle and bustle, same yellow cabs, but every block is different.

"I wasn't trying to show New York in a way nobody else has, but I did want to try some fresh locations. Nicole's character lives in an apartment that's on a little island between streets in the East Village, which helps with the thriller aspect — someone doing surveillance could only guard one side of the building. And that's what you're looking for, something that makes you say, 'I haven't seen the city like that.' "

Pollack says one location that's been sadly underutilized is the Fulton Street Fish Market, which is moving to the Bronx in early June. "That has never really been used, and it's such a great location, so iconic. I'd love to see that caught on film."

Despite having made a film many consider one of the funniest of all time, Pollack hasn't returned to comedies in the two decades since "Tootsie."

"In terms of level of difficulty, it would go: comedy, thriller and then romantic drama. There aren't rules in a romance, so they can be played any number of ways.

"But even 'The Way We Were' was beat up when it was released. A lot of people found it neither a great love story nor a great political story. It made a lot of money, yet over the years it's attained a stature it didn't have at the time."

One scene in "The Interpreter" that's already causing a stir is a nail-biter involving a bomb on a Brooklyn bus.

"I didn't believe we were doing anything incendiary," Pollack says. "Depicting a terrorist act in a film isn't going to incite terrorism. That mentality is already there.

"However, I have a weird job — I make fairly expensive Hollywood movies, which by nature have to be entertaining. So I have to be careful about politics in them. I don't want to be pretentious. On the other hand, when your movie is filming for the first time in the U.N., you naturally want to squeeze in observations about issues that are going on today."