Paul Bettany struggled with claustrophobia inside the trench that was created for Journey’s End.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron actor stars as Lieutenant Osborne alongside Sam Claflin, Asa Butterfield and Tom Sturridge in the latest film adaptation of R.C. Sherriff’s play, about a group of British officers awaiting their fate in a dugout in northern France in 1918.
The crew created their own dugout, a sheltered part of a trench, for the film shot in Pinewood Studios Wales, and Paul has admitted it felt very realistic.
“It was quite something,” he told Scotland’s Daily Record. “You had to climb up to come down into it, and it’s amazing how quickly you really felt like you were underground. It was very claustrophobic in there.”
The British actor, who is married to Jennifer Connelly, has always been fascinated by World War I and enjoyed being able to explore it in Journey’s End. He did a lot of reading into the subject, and came away most interested in the “sedentary nature” of war.
“Usually you can march towards or you can run away but you’re just sat there and waited for the bomb to land on you, really,” he explained. “And I think there was something about that experience that turned people into writers.”
Sherriff wrote the 1928 play based off his experiences in the war and it has been adapted for the screen a number of times.
The latest retelling was directed by Saul Dibb and written by Simon Reade, who went some way to make the dialogue more modern.
“The ‘tickety-boo’ and ‘tally-ho, old chaps’, they sort of tried to weed that out of the film,” Paul joked.
Journey’s End, which debuted at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, is in cinemas now.
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