We were on the red carpet for the New York premiere of “Anthropoid” at AMC Lincoln Square.
Filmmakers Sean Ellis, Cillian Murphy, Jamie Dornan, Ana Geislerova (dressed in Valentino), Charlotte Le Bon (dressed in Valentino), Mickey Liddell (producer) and Pete Shilaimon (producer) were in attendance. Additional guests included Dan Abrams, Pico Alexander, Christian Campbell & America Olivo, Pia Glenn, Christine Jansing, Laura Michelle Kelly, Michael Mailer, Jason Mann and Thomas Matthews. A dinner party followed at The Milling Room.
The movie is based on the extraordinary true story of Operation Anthropoid, the WWII mission to assassinate SS General Reinhard Heydrich, the main architect behind the Final Solution and the Reich’s third in command after Hitler and Himmler. It hits theaters August 12.
Interview with Jamie Dornan
What was the appeal of the film? What drew you to work on this project?
The script and the stories blew me away. I didn’t know any of the mission or particular part of history. But beyond all of that, like three weeks before I got sent the script, I’d watched Metro Manila, which Sean directed, and I thought it was one of the best films I’d ever seen. And I’d be saying to my wife like, “Fuck, I’d love to work with this guy,” and then almost serendipitously three weeks later, my agent emailed me a script, and as soon as I knew it was Sean, it could’ve been about anything and I would’ve loved to do it because I’m just such a fan of Sean. So yeah, that was for the most part why I wanted to do it.
Can you tell me what you admire about Sean as a filmmaker and a writer?
His attention to detail is insane. I’ve never met or worked with anyone who is so driven and passionate about their project. He turns up every day know exactly what he wants to do. His meticulous planning of every shot, and he built like figurines of Cillian and I for all the action sequences. I mean I’ve worked with directors that don’t even have fucking storyboards. Sean took it to the level where he had figurines of us doing each action. He’d lit them in a way he wanted to light them on the day. I mean, his attention to detail is just incredible. It’s very rare, I think, of filmmakers these days. Certainly I’d never experienced that before. I was very taken by that.
You’re playing a real life hero, a very impressive man. How much research did you do on him?
I feel it’s one of the lesser known events within the Second World War. I didn’t know anything about it, but there’s still plenty out there. There’s still plenty of information to find, and I think both Cillian and I have a good grip on who these guys were and why they found themselves in the positions they did and why they responded the way the did. They’re very different characters, and hopefully that comes across in the film. I find him very relatable in terms of the vulnerability and the panic that would set in for a normal person in such an abnormal situation. They’re true heroes, but they’re true heroes because they’re just young men that responded the way any of us would. There’s nothing superhero about them, and that’s why I think the story itself is so brilliant.
Was it hard to get the Czech accent?
Yeah, it’s a tricky one because it’s actually quite soft. It’s not hooky in a way, the way you can really grab on to something. It is quite subtle as European accents go, but we have a lot of Czech actors in the production with us and in the scenes with us, and they’re doing an English accent and mixing with the Czech, you know, Czech accented English, so that was kind of helpful.
Do you feel like sometimes you need to drop behind enemy lines in your own life?
A little bit, but I feel above everything else I feel so privileged to be working as an actor. I’ve probably been an actor longer than people think but not really working. There’s some awful statistic about actors, it’s only like 5% are ever employed at one time. That’s disgusting. Why would you want to work to work in that industry? So I just feel very lucky to be doing stuff and at the moment doing stuff that I want to do and have an element of choice in my work, which I don’t take for granted. I know that that’s a very cool thing. But you just try to enjoy it and keep yourself excited about it and hopefully the work keeps happening.
After shooting serious scenes did you have any light moments on set?
I slip out of character very quickly, I think because most people I’ve worked with are up for having a lot of fun as much as working, it’s very serious subject matter. We’re all trying to make the most of that and still have fun as well.
Interview with Cillian Murphy
So what appealed to you about this project?
It’s a very good story. It’s a true story. He’s a good director, nice parts so all of the things combined.
Did you have to do a lot of research beforehand?
Well Sean Ellis who directed the film, and wrote the film and shot the film and produced the film has lived with the story for like 10 years so he amassed a huge amount of research. So he shared that with us, me and James. We just piggy-backed on that stuff.
Do you remember having heard about Heydrich in school?
No we weren’t taught that stuff, it was quite a specific instant in history that we weren’t aware of. Obviously for Czech people it’s huge and I kind of related as an Irish person because you know we were occupied for a long time. You can identify with the Czech story and Czech resistance as you can identify with being an Irish person. It’s huge over there and the fact that we shot in Prague and used a lot of Czech crew members and Czech actress in the film so we were trying to make it as authentic and real as possible.
You’ve played a lot of people who fight against oppression, do you see that in your career, there are various places where people are oppressed?
It’s an age-old story. It’s the David and Goliath story. Archetypes of the weak against the strong. The oppressed against the oppressor. That’s a very old model of story so it’s very appealing, but in this case it actually happens. It changed the course of the second world war so I think it’s nice to play archetypes but you have to be brave with them. We’re not making a documentary here we’re making fiction.
Can you speak about collaborating with Sean and what you admire about him?
He’s a very inspirational man and like I said he wrote it, directed it, shot it and produced it. I like that rigor in a filmmaker that’s the sort of person I want to be involved with and I’m sort of weary of a director that sits 20 feet away behind a monitor that you don’t have any connection with. Sean Ellis is right there shooting the film in front of you and he’s totally invested and myself and Jamie and Sean, we’ve been very very close over the course of the filmmaking and it really felt like we were striving to make the best piece of work possible and we care deeply about it, it wasn’t- we felt this film was important.
The heaviness of the film- did you have to crack to break up the tension afterwards?
That’s inevitable. I had a lot of fun with Jamie. During the course of the film we had a lot of fun and he’s a great guy and Sean had a great sense of humor. I think naturally when you make a film like this it’s tough bc it’s quite heavy, you have to crack.
Did you have nightmares about some of the things?
Yes, you’re aware of that and you’re aware of the significance of it and you’re aware these guys existed and they died for what they believed in so it’s very humbling, particularly when you’re shooting it in the city of Prague and every person you meet- their parents, their grandparents- everybody has some connection to it. It’s quite profound.
Tell me a little bit about the role you play.
My role is Marie and I am playing a young and naïve girl who is living through this resistance here in Prague and she comes across this beautiful man and she just deeply falls in love with him.
How was shooting in Europe? You were on location?
Yep, we were in Prague.
How was that?
It was great. It’s a beautiful, beautiful city. I didn’t get to really visit the city as much as I wanted because we were shooting a lot of hours, but just to stay there and because we had to do a Czech accent in the movie, to stay there to listen to the people. Each time I had the time I was just taking huge walks in the city and getting inspired by the amazing architecture and it’s beautiful, it wasn’t touched by the war at all.
Speak a little bit about what most surprised you about the story.
It’s a pretty amazing story. Probably if I saw it and I didn’t know that it was a true story, I wouldn’t believe it.
And how was working with Jamie?
He’s really nice, really ugly, he smells. You don’t want to work with that; it’s not fun.
How about Sean? He’s also a cowriter on the script and he’s the director. Speak about collaborating with him in both those capacities.
Not just only that, he’s operating the camera as well, so directing, doing the lights on set as well, he did making of the movie, he took pictures outside, he took pictures while we were shooting. He’s just like a robot.
He’s very hands on?
He does everything. I heard that Metro Manila, he was taking the sound at the same time. It’s really impressive, but at the same time it’s just really convenient because he’s just there and you work and it’s like, “Ok let’s do it again,” and he gives you direction like that so you can feel like you’re creating something together and it’s really like a closed relation so it’s cool.
Interview with Anna Geislerová
Tell me a little bit about the role you play in the movie.
Her name is Lenka. She’s part of the resistance, she’s very brave, she’s a hero, and she dies, so there’s no secret.
Tell me a little bit about your research and preparation because these are all real people.
Honestly, I did no research and no preparation because it is based on common people like you and me and I think they were just brave and they had their opinions and they stood by their truth. That’s all they did; they decided to fight against the evil so I tried to play a brave girl.
How was collaborating with Sean? What do you admire about him?
I admire everything about Sean. Honestly, he’s new. He never started to be a filmmaker, he started as a little kid helping at photographs, and he was an assistant to commercials, and just everything by himself. Then on this film, he wrote the script, he directed it, and he held the camera for all the time, so he was the DOP. At the same time, he had a family on set every lunch. I think he’s just crazy amazing.
What do you have coming up next?
I’m shooting a lot in Czech Republic, that’s my place. Then we’ll see.
How is it for you to work in Hollywood and also in your home country. Is that fun?
I never acted in Hollywood, yet. I think this is just a little nice thing for me and I will see if something will happen.
Interview with Sean Ellis
What made you want to make this film now?
Well, it hadn’t been told for a long time. I felt that there was a few generations that didn’t know about it and there was a lot of people outside the Czech Republic that never heard of it. I thought it was a fascinating story of bravery and heroic action and I thought that the real-life events of that assassination would make an interesting film.
What do you think we get out of retelling it now?
That we shouldn’t really forget and that we still keep making the same mistakes. We still need to look back on our pasts to these kinds of stories and figure out why are there still people that are causing genocide in the world and what we can do to try and stop it.
What to you was the biggest challenge of telling it?
I guess being truthful to the events and the historical aspect of it, but the biggest challenge was that we don’t really know what relationships were like so you’re starting from scratch in that respect.
What parts of it did you have to fill in the blanks?
Well the relationships between the characters in the film. There’s nothing that really states what they were, the dynamic of who they were. We know that Kubiš was more sort of puppy-like and a little bit playful and we know that Gabčík was hell-bent on a successful mission.
Photos by: Marion Curtis/StarPix