Tell me about your character.
Esca is his name, freedom is his game. He’s a guy who, when we
first meet him in the film, has lost everything. He’s lost his
family, he’s lost his values, he’s lost his tribe, he’s lost his
freedom and he’s enslaved by the very people who took that all
away from him. And in that first scene you can tell, he’s
willing to die; he’s very prepared to die – it would be easier
if he just died. He could rid himself of the shame of being
captured. He is saved and his journey after that is that he lays
down a debt of honour. After that moment for him, every step,
every action is about becoming a free man again.
Can you talk about the relationship between the Roman master and
his British slave?
For the journey that these two characters go on… as much as it
is a physical journey into the unknown, into a world that was
very dangerous and hostile, it really is a journey about these
two guys who are enemies and who are chained together. They
have to go on this mission together, not knowing whether the
other is going to turn around and put a knife into his back.
It’s that suspense, that sense of mistrust and betrayal that is
lingering in the air. It draws this story forward.
And why do you think they bond? Is it because they have both
Absolutely. I think they are absolutely very parallel people,
with very parallel storylines. I think guilt and shame are big
themes for both of these characters. I think their journey is a
catharsis. The sentiment of your saving grace could also be your
closest enemy is a really valuable message.
how was it working with Channing Tatum?
Channing is a great guy. I think the world of him. We had such a
good time on this. You know, it’s two guys riding on horses and
playing with swords in the Highlands of Scotland, and Romans and
armour and all that stuff. So we were like kids on set, we had a
great time together. We were also very competitive which helped
push you a lot harder. So yeah, we had a great time on this, a
really good time.
The film feels very historically authentic. Did you learn
something about the Romans that perhaps you didn’t know before?
More than anything I had a real appreciation for the tribes of
Northern Scotland to be able to survive in that terrain and that
landscape. I also really feel for the Romans who obviously came
from certain parts of the Continent. They went up there in their
tunics and their sandals going, “Where the Hell are we? Let’s
get out of here. Let’s build a big wall and never go back
there.” I did empathise with them.
How was it learning to fight and did your dance background help
you with the fight choreography?
Sure, yeah, absolutely. I think if you have a history of any
sort of physical movement, like dancing or anything like that,
it’s always going to help when it comes to stuff like this
because fight scenes are basically just choreography, they could
be dance choreography. So both me and Channing do have that
background and we applied all of that stuff. It kind of comes as
second nature after a while.
managed to get off this one unscathed, so I was fine. Nothing to
really report there.
Even on the horses?
Even on the horses. I had never ridden a horse before so I had
to learn from scratch and really bank time in the saddle before
we started the film, but the one thing I was never afraid of was
falling off. I really trusted this horse. He was called “The
Mountain Goat” because he was incredibly stable over rocky
terrain, so I was very well taken care of.
Can you talk about shooting in Scotland? It’s so beautiful up
there but cold.
Oh, incredibly cold. I mean, yes, it is beautiful and it is the
backdrop of the film; I think it’s a very integral character in
the movie and to the telling of that adventure. It does present
its difficulties: we were in some very remote places; Kevin
MacDonald (director) really wanted to push the envelope of
experiencing the frontier, the unknown world. So it was
difficult, technically difficult: some of tents blew into the
sea, some vehicles overturned, the horses were slipping and
sliding on the hills and stuff, so it was demanding but I think
that kind of stuff informs the film and informs your