Blake Harrison has said he did not need to act when filming battle scenes for war drama World On Fire, as he was “genuinely quite terrified”.
The Inbetweeners actor plays a soldier in the upcoming BBC series, which also stars Sean Bean, Helen Hunt and Lesley Manville.
Asked if the action scenes were scary, he said: “Within a controlled way, yes.
“But I will say those scenes are always my favourite to film, because I feel like there’s such little acting required, when those poppers are going off like gunfire and there’s two SFX guys with what looked like bazookas filled with rubber and dust and debris to fire… you don’t need to act, you are genuinely quite terrified of these explosions and things and you do jump a little bit and are quite happy to run away from them as fast as you can.”
“Also, the realism and that small window you get to peer through into what it may have been like back then is also quite kind of humbling in a sense, and you can really take that with you and bring up that fear that you need to do the role,” he added.
The drama shows how the Second World War affected ordinary people in Poland, Germany, France and England.
Bean plays a bus conductor who is a conscientious objector.
Discussing what drew him to the part, he said: “I’d not really played a character like that before.
“I played someone who was a bit fractured and distracted, a man who was suffering really psychologically from the past, trying to keep a hold on his life, hold it together and these flashbacks come upon him, these memories, these horrible nightmares that he just can’t get out of his head, and trying to deal with it himself, on his own really, as many men did after World War One.
“They didn’t get help from hospitals or societies or the government, they were very much seen as weaklings or men who were shirking or trying to dodge things, but they were actually men who were so shocked and so damaged that they weren’t pretending.
“Today it would be mental illness, it’s well documented and it’s addressed, but then they just thought you were weak, you weren’t strong, you weren’t a man.”
The actor said it was an “intense” role to shoot.
“You went to work, and you knew you were going to be doing something… it wasn’t where you went to work and said ‘hi’ (cheerful voice) with other characters,” he said.
World On Fire starts on BBC One on September 29.