Based on Michael Morpurgo's eponymous novel, Pat O'Connor's Private Peaceful is set to his our screens this coming Friday 12th October – and we caught up with lead star George MacKay ahead of the films release.
Speaking exclusively to The Fan Carpet's Stefan Pape, MacKay discusses his working relationship with fellow co-star – and on-screen brother – Jack O'Connell, as well as telling us of his own similarities to his role of Tommo Peaceful, a youngster who boldly decides to go to war in an attempt to prove his worth to his friends and family back home.
And on the subject of war, MacKay discusses shooting the battle scenes and how much research he had to do into the First World War ahead of taking on such a role.
This is arguably your biggest role to date, taking on the lead role in what is to be a big British drama – this must be quite an exciting time for you?
Yeah for sure, this is definitely the biggest role that I have had, at least when I first took it on. It's really exciting. Reading the script and everything I saw a couple of parallels between myself and it was exciting to give it a go.
Did you do much research into the World War One era?
We kept it quite fresh and we had people who were great help if we needed to check up on anything, but these boys were village boys, going to the army and not really knowing what they were doing, and not getting much training before going away, so we kept it fresh and the main research was really just spending time with each other and getting close to each other so we could have that community feel and close bond. So it was more getting the relationships between everyone solid, rather than the era necessarily.
There is a wonderful chemistry between yourself and Jack O'Connell – did you spend a lot of time together off-set working on that, or did it come naturally?
The way it worked – and I'm not sure if it was intentional or not – but the first two weeks of filming was just me and Jack and because we were filming on the same locations where the younger versions of ourselves had been shooting, that meant we were only doing a scene or two a day, so we'd do the morning and the younger kids would come in and do the afternoon, and vice versa. So it was quite fractured for the first two weeks, meaning it was just me and Jack spending a lot of time together and where we were there wasn't a whole lot to do, so we just used to chill out and play guitar and spend a lot of time together, off-set as well. That first two weeks of the eight really bonded us and formed that brotherhood.
You talk about working alongside actors playing the same roles as you – but younger – did you work with Samuel Bottomley to help get the nuances of the character accurate?
I'd like to say yes, but to be honest we just did our own versions of the role and the casting directors did such an amazing job because watching it was mad to see the amount of little mannerisms that myself and Sam share, and in look and manner, and what Hero shared with Jack. We didn't necessarily talk through the character together but we did spend a lot of time together, having dinner at the hotel in the evening, and things like that – so I think it probably worked on more of a sub-conscious level than actively researching.
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE
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PRIVATE PEACEFUL IS OUT NOW IN CINEMAS