It being a Brit-heavy ensemble cast, with the promise of Spielberg and Kate and Will meant the crowds were out in force – as was the security.
You can check out what the FTRC film clubbers had to say about War Horse here.
And a special hello goes to Kelvin who – to our huge surprise – had printed out a pic of us snapped at Tintin, which he then asked us to sign. Totally surreal!
Only (deep breath) Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irvine, Benedict Cumberbatch, Emily Watson, Celine Buckens, David Thewlis, Richard Curtis and author Michael Morpurgo. (Additionally we spoke with Peter Mullan and David Kross but it seems the footage for those interviews has disappeared.)
Here’s what everyone had to say about the mighty War Horse. First up it’s author Michael Morpurgo who accessorised with a colourful scarf which his wife knitted him!
How excited are you to be here at the premiere for a Steven Spielberg-directed adaptation of your book? “It’s difficult to describe it in words to be honest. I love what’s happening I also feel it’s a bit silly because this is a book which has been out there for forever and a day. I’m used to it. It’s my wife’s favourite book and she says it’s my best, and what’s really annoying is she’s been proved right yet again!”
“But I have to say, it’s a story, and when you write a story it’s for everyone – for the kids who read it, the parents and now for the people all over the world who are going to read it because of this movie. You have to give it away. I don’t mean that you do it charitably, I just mean that you share your stories with people.”
“This is a story about reconciliation. About living through war and surviving. It’s about the pity of war as well. It’s very serious and I want people to come out of it as I was when I was writing it: thoughtful. And quite troubled and that’s alright.”
What did you think when you heard Spielberg was interested? “I didn’t believe it because I think Dreamworks and all these companies take on quite a lot of projects and I thought they were just saying Spielberg is going to make it because they want to have an option on it. But when I met him and I realised how much commitment he had to the story the I knew it was going to be alright. He loves it. He was emotional about it.”
What can audience expect? “They can expect to be deeply, deeply involved in a story that won’t let them go, which will make many of them cry. But I think you’ll come out of it believing in courage and perseverance and I hope more thoughtful about the world we live in today. About why we go to war to quickly and unnecessarily. This particular war if you realise that 10 million men died, didn’t grow to be fathers, grandfathers, and you think of all the widows and the families, what you have is this enormous grief. Stories are there to make us think.”
What was it like when you got the call about working with Speilberg? “It’s a great day in any actor’s life when you get a call from your agent saying Steven Spielberg wants to make a movie and he wants to meet you – it was really, really thrilling. Just getting the job, I was walking on air. It was a great experience to be in an ensemble with greatly respected actors and a very British film with an iconic American director.
Why do you think this film resonates with people? “I think it’s an anti-war film for kids. He’s very unashamedly made a film about hope and redemption and this miracle horse and a survivor. That’s not really the story of the second World War. A lot of people and horses died. But through the eyes of that horse we see war and that’s the war we should never forget because it was one of the worst monstrosities man has ever inflicted on itself.”
A word on the horses: “They’re amazing. Not only can they hit marks and do what they’re told but they can emote. They seem to be able to respond when people are upset. It’s amazing.”
Then there was young but extremely poised Celine Buckens who played the feisty but sickly Emilie. She was looking rather lovely in an age-appropriate Victoria Beckham-designed dress (which Michelle Williams was also spotting wearing just a few weeks later.)
How did it feel to be working with Spielberg? ”It was surreal and an honour and I still can’t quite believe it happened! I feel really blessed. It’s such an opportunity.”
You worked quite a bit with the horses. How was that? “Great! They’re really quite impressive animals. They’re so big but the things they manage to do – you’d never expect that from animals.”
Why does this story resonate? “It’s such a timeless story which we can all relate to. We’ve all learnt about it in our history lessons and it’s not just about war it’s about love, between an owner and his horse and that’s something which everyone can relate to too because love is a universal theme.”
On Spielberg (yes it was a Spielberg gush-fest): “Imagine you were my age and you grew up watching Spielberg’s films, Jaws, ET and Close Encounters, they’re the background and wallpaper to your life, you don’t imagine that you’ll ever be part of them one day, so it was an honour.”
What can audiences expect? “It’s a Spielberg movie so there are some incredibly shot sequences. Spielberg knows what he’s doing. He knows how to tug on the heart strings and pull a good cast together. I don’t think people will be disappointed. It’s got Spielberg written all over it.”
It’s a great British cast… “Personally I worked mostly with Emily Watson and Peter Mullan and I’m not just saying this, they’re two of my favourite actors and two of my favourite people so that was just a pleasure for me.”
And you do gravitate towards playing the bad guy… “Yeah I always love playing the bad guy! Something deep in my psyche must be very bad.”
Well you seem very nice. “Oh it’s all for the camera!”
“It was really inspiring and the man’s a legend who I’ve grown up watching. I wanted to be in Raiders of the Lost Ark, I wanted to be Harrison Ford riding those horses and there I am on my first day leading a charge of 120 horses across a 400 yard stretch of land in front of Steven Spielberg. It was a dream come true!
“I think it resonates because it’s a very beautiful, rich family saga during an era of very complex history told with the empathy of an animal, something that’s universal and we can all understand in that it’s mute. Language and culture aren’t barriers and you can very much judge the behaviour of humans and everyone else within the landscape of the film by how they treat the animals, and that’s what make it truly powerful and moving. What you see is how Germans, English and French and Belgian’s have soul and heart and feeling and they’re not goodies and baddies, their unified in the care of this very smart, noble creature.”
A final word: “It’s an amazing family film. It’s something that both grandchildren and grandparents can enjoy. It’s just a very beautifully reckoned story about a very moving period in our history. And it’s thrilling and funny and incredibly touching.”
After the jump man of the moment Tom Hiddleston on needing a wee during Jurassic Park! Plus Richard Curtis, Jeremy Irvine and what we were wearing on the red carpet…
Hiddleston on Spielberg: “He’s just a master – I grew up watching his films. I think I saw Jurassic Park on the opening night and I was 12 years old and I really needed to go to the loo in the T-Rex sequence and I couldn’t because I was so excited.
So when I first met him I was having to pinch myself and then working with him… he’s the most incredible man, so kind and so generous and he approaches every day like it’s his first day and he’s so passionate and he gets nervous and changes his mind. It’s wonderful to see and an artist on his level and his ability to still be excited and still be looking for new ways to express his view of the world. This film has come straight from his heart.”
The story’s appeal: “I think it appeals to the best in us. I think Albert instils in Joey a love and a courage which then touches every human being he comes into contact with through the course of the first World War – English, German and French. And this remarkable animal reminds people of their compassion and capacity for kindness and they’re two of the finest human qualities which we should all aspire to more.”
And his final word: “It’s an epic adventure, an odyssey, some breathtaking cinematography and I think a few tears but some heart-warming ones.”
How thrilled were you to see a cast like that realising your screenplay? “It was very exciting because there were so many of them! When I saw the film I didn’t even know some of the people who had been cast. I hadn’t seen them in costume. So it was a great thrill – suddenly there’s Eddy Marsan or Liam Cunningham popping up so it was fun.”
What was it like working with Spielberg? “Easy. That’s the funny thing. He has so many ideas and such a rich imagination that you don’t have those awful silences where they wait for you to be clever. Steven would always have five ideas of his own and it was just up to me to steal the best ones.”
On the film’s appeal: “I’m quite an optimistic person by nature and even though I think it’s a sad and tragic story, every time the horse meets someone new he actually does find courage and dignity and support. I think the message of the movie is hope. And my favourite scene is in the middle of no man’s land and two guys from the opposite sides find that they actually like each other.”
That scene was our favourite too. “I think they’ll think they’re money’s been well spent. I hope they’ll find a story that slowly creeps up on them and by the end they’ll find a story which moving.”
And bring the hankies right? “I needed them!”
And then – the penultimate interview. Jeremy Irvine, a complete unknown, looking quite bewildered and overwhelmed on the red carpet. So overwhelmed and over-questioned that by the time he got to us he was a bit pooped!
Of the experience he had this to say: “Before this I was in a theatre show with no lines, so just to have lines, and be in a movie was an honour, to work with Spielberg was beyond that.”
Right you played a non-speaking tree right? “Yeah! That’s right so this is quite a long way from there.”
What makes this such a powerful story? “I think there’s a lot to relate to. The relationship Albert has with that horse we’ve all had with a brother or sister or best friend and we can all imagine what that’s like to have that taken away from you.”
“It’s classic Hollywood. Steven Spielberg and the best director of photography in the world, Janusz Kaminski, and they’ve created this beautiful piece that I’m just so honoured to be allowed to be a part of.”
How as working with the horse – was that challenging? “Yes in that I’d never ridden a horse, but he’s the most experienced highly trained horse in the world and you really do feel like you’re acting with him.”
On the experienced British cast: “Again they all kind of took me under their wing. I was going a bit crazy in the beginning so they were just really nice and supported me trough it!”
Our final interview before Kate and Will squelched down the red carpet (which was an anti-climax of course, but funny to catch them with the backdrop of Yates’s), was Spielberg – all of which ended up in our FTRC edit here.
Hair as always by The Powder Room.
Tux and trousers: Zara
Leather collar shirt: The Kooples
Belt: vintage Jaeger.
And our most exciting accessory: YSL arty oval ring which we’ve been coveting for years. Expect to see it on our finger, clutching the mic, an awful lot.
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