Jamie Bell is back this wee as The Eagle is released on DVD & Blu-Ray. The movie sees him team up with Channing Tatum as Kevin Macdonald brings Rosemary Sutcliff's historical novel to life.
- Tell me about your character.
Esca is his name, freedom is his game. He’s a guy who, when we first meet him in the film, has lost everything.
He’s lost his family, he’s lost his values, he’s lost his tribe, he’s lost his freedom and he’s enslaved by the very people who took that all away from him. And in that first scene you can tell, he’s willing to die; he’s very prepared to die - it would be easier if he just died.
He could rid himself of the shame of being captured. He is saved and his journey after that is that he lays down a debt of honour. After that moment for him, every step, every action is about becoming a free man again.
- Can you talk about the relationship between the Roman master and his British slave?
For the journey that these two characters go on as much as it is a physical journey into the unknown, into a world that was very dangerous and hostile, it really is a journey about these two guys who are enemies and who are chained together.
They have to go on this mission together, not knowing whether the other is going to turn around and put a knife into his back. It’s that suspense, that sense of mistrust and betrayal that is lingering in the air. It draws this story forward.
- And why do you think they bond? Is it because they have both lost fathers?
Absolutely. I think they are absolutely very parallel people, with very parallel storylines. I think guilt and shame are big themes for both of these characters.
I think their journey is a catharsis. The sentiment of your saving grace could also be your closest enemy is a really valuable message.
- So how was it working with Channing Tatum?
Channing is a great guy. I think the world of him. We had such a good time on this. You know, it’s two guys riding on horses and playing with swords in the Highlands of Scotland, and Romans and armour and all that stuff.
So we were like kids on set, we had a great time together. We were also very competitive which helped push you a lot harder. So yeah, we had a great time on this, a really good time.
- The film feels very historically authentic. Did you learn something about the Romans that perhaps you didn’t know before?
More than anything I had a real appreciation for the tribes of Northern Scotland to be able to survive in that terrain and that landscape.
I also really feel for the Romans who obviously came from certain parts of the Continent. They went up there in their tunics and their sandals going, 'Where the Hell are we? Let’s get out of here. Let’s build a big wall and never go back there.' I did empathise with them.
- How was it learning to fight and did your dance background help you with the fight choreography?
Sure, yeah, absolutely. I think if you have a history of any sort of physical movement, like dancing or anything like that, it’s always going to help when it comes to stuff like this because fight scenes are basically just choreography, they could be dance choreography.
So both me and Channing do have that background and we applied all of that stuff. It kind of comes as second nature after a while.
- Any injuries?
I managed to get off this one unscathed, so I was fine. Nothing to really report there.
- Even on the horses?
Even on the horses. I had never ridden a horse before so I had to learn from scratch and really bank time in the saddle before we started the film, but the one thing I was never afraid of was falling off.
I really trusted this horse. He was called The Mountain Goat because he was incredibly stable over rocky terrain, so I was very well taken care of.
- Can you talk about shooting in Scotland? It’s so beautiful up there but cold.
Oh, incredibly cold. I mean, yes, it is beautiful and it is the backdrop of the film; I think it’s a very integral character in the movie and to the telling of that adventure.
It does present its difficulties: we were in some very remote places; Kevin MacDonald (director) really wanted to push the envelope of experiencing the frontier, the unknown world.
So it was difficult, technically difficult: some of tents blew into the sea, some vehicles overturned, the horses were slipping and sliding on the hills and stuff, so it was demanding but I think that kind of stuff informs the film and informs your performance.
The Eagle is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now