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Jamie Dornan, famed as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey, has dubbed his new role playing a British-trained wartime agent sent to kill a top Nazi as “murder for the greater good.”
Dornan was cast in British director Sean Ellis’ new film Anthropoid as a Czech agent who parachuted into Nazi occupied Europe to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi general who helped mastermind the Holocaust. The actor says there is nothing more satisfying than playing the man who killed such an evil character.
“You always need drive as an actor,” the Belfast-born actor said. “Could there be any stronger a drive than the opportunity to assassinate somebody so horrific? There is nobody in the world who cannot but see Heydrich as evil.”
Speaking Thursday at the Karlovy Vary international film festival, Dornan added: “This is murder but for a greater good. What can be more satisfying than assassinating the mastermind of the Final Solution?’
The U.S., French and Czech Republic co-production begins shooting on location in Prague in September.
Ellis wrote the script after 15 years of detailed research into the 1942 assassination that sent shock waves through the Nazi elite and prompted them to raze the village of Lidice to the ground, murdering the men and deporting the women and children to concentration camps. The writer says the English language film is designed to bring the story to a new generation.
“We’ve been very accurate in our research and tried to present historical facts,” Ellis said. “But we don’t really know what the two characters really felt and the pressure they were under – there is documentary evidence that the Czech resistance was divided about whether [they] should go ahead or not.”
The film – which takes its title from the codename for the secret operation – is still being cast but will also star Toby Jones, Czech producer David Ondircek said. Actresses Charlotte Le Bon and Ana Geislerova have already been announced.
Ellis says it focuses very much on the emotional world of “ordinary men” sent to carry out an “extraordinary act.”
Producer Peter Shilaimon, of U.S. company LD Entertainment, said the Czech Republic’s tax rebate scheme had helped bring the production to Prague, where a one-to-one scale model of the interior of the church where the British-trained agents were eventually trapped by the Nazis is being built. The church itself still exists – its stonework pockmarked by bullet holes and damage from grenade explosions.
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