Ironclad: Battle for Blood is released in UK cinemas today. If you haven’t seen the first movie and want a quick catch up, head this way!
HeyUGuys: What first attracted you to the project?
Tom Austen: To be honest it was the first thing that came along that was out and out action. I’d been working in Paris for about 7 months playing a cop in the modern day so a lot of guns and procedural stuff. I was really enjoying all the action and thought it would be fun to start swinging swords, riding horses and it was the action which really drew me to it initially. I also really liked the fact that the character was the anti-hero and quite different.
Is it fun dressing up in these period clothes and using props from that era?
It’s really good fun. I’d done a lot of sword work in stage combat classes at drama school, always enjoyed it but I’d never had a chance to use it. I rode horses a lot when I was a kid so it was a chance to do that again.
There’s inevitably comparison made to James Purefoy from the first film, are they tough shoes to fill?
Before we started shooting I had a lot of conversations with the Director (Jonathan English) about this and we both decided it would be better for me not to see the original. We thought that it would be better for me to go with my own intuition. I’ve still not seen the original so I can’t comment but it’s not something that bothers me. Of course people will make comparisons but I’d hope that im bringing my own interpretation to it.
Does it present any problems or pressures involved coming into an established franchise?
It’s definitely exciting to be exciting to be part of something that people had a good reaction to initially; to the genre and the franchise within that. I try to keep all that sort of stuff separate as when you turn up on set all you can do is your part there and then and hope that once your job is done that everyone rallies together and the film gets made in a way that continues to excite people and fulfils their expectation of it.
Did you manage to bond with the cast off-screen and how was the movie shoot?
Absolutely! We’ve all managed to stay in touch. It was a really enjoyable but difficult shoot. We were shooting in the middle winter in Serbia, we had snow, filming up mountains, in castles and the conditions were really rough but we rallied together and got each other through it. It was really fun, hard work so that doesn’t leave you when you go through that together.
Were there any difficulties shooting fight scenes in these ancient buildings?
We shot in two castles, the exteriors were shot in the mountains near Belgrade and you had to get there by walking up to it. When you were there it was often precarious shooting on cliff edges. No one was hurt and nothing went wrong but there were a lot of health and safety people making sure we didn’t get into trouble but you did want to wander around.
Are you into Game of Thrones and what was it like being on set with Michelle Fairley.
I’ve seen bits of it as I’ve been away for the last couple of years so missed the start of it. I’m not sure the bits I’ve seen were part of her storyline. When I met Michelle I didn’t release it was her. We arrived on the same day so we went out for dinner with Jonathan and I didn’t find out it was her until we were on set the following day. By then I knew her as just ‘Michelle’, she such a giving actress; she’s a real pro, she’s incredible and it was a pleasure to work with her.
We’ve tried to keep a lot of what people really enjoyed from the first film. It’s very action heavy but there’s also real heart and a real struggle to the film. I hope people just enjoy it as a film on it’s own, not just as a sequel. There’s a real journey to the characters that you don’t necessarily see in the first film and that we’ve tried to stay true to what people liked from the first one.
Do you feel TV and Film shows are getting ever closer?
I think so. There used to be such separation between TV and film actors and I think with shows like True Detective with Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey doing it, it’s huge and really important for both genres that everyone crosses over. I love to do both, I love the episodic serial nature of TV but I also love the close-endedness of films and the resolution of that so for me I find them both really exciting in different ways.
What’s next for you?
I’m about to start shooting a series on ITV which is another period drama but it’s set in the 60’s and then after that I’m going to an American TV show, The Royals.
In the Royals I’m playing a character called Jasper who is the new personal bodyguard to the princess. He’s a bit of a mystery. I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to say but even if I could say I don’t really know! We’ve shot the pilot already and he’s thrown up a few surprises in that episode and I don’t think he’s all he pretends to be. I’m really looking forward to seeing how it will develop.