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Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston Interview
Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston Interview
Have you got a favourite scene in the film?

Tom Hiddleston

My favourite scene is, without question, the scene with Toby Kebbel. I think it's an extraordinary piece of filmmaking, that after that electrifying, horrifying chase through the trenches alongside Joey and then there's a moment of stillness. And it's almost like the Christmas Day truce in 1915, when the English front line and the German front line played football and you see, filtered into that moment, a metaphor for the insanity of warfare, two men clubbing together to help out this silent, mute, noble creature that's been hurt by their efforts to kill each other. And I love that moment.

The bit that makes me cry the most actually, is when the German soldier, Peter, gives Toby Kebbel's character, Colin, the German wire-cutters and Toby turns back and says, “I'll use 'em in me garden in South Shields.” And I love it in that it's so funny and so light. Then Toby says, “Alright, Fritz, you're on,” and then the German officer says, [does German accent] “My name is not Fritz. It is Peter,” and in that moment the whole thing is humanised and the complete insanity of warfare is shown up in its truest colours but with the lightest of touches.
I presume you watched the theatre version? Was that before or after you got the part?

Benedict Cumberbatch

That was my first engagement with it, yes. It was well before. I have a friend, Luke Treadaway, who was the first ever Albert, on stage, in this country. It was magic for all the reasons that the film is, in an opposite way, because it was about bringing your imagination and having something that was truly naked and non-representational and obvious, still evoke massive emotional responses and engagement, which travels to you from literally a bit of wire and cane being brought to life by a puppeteer in front of your eyes and the minute that foal was on its feet, grandchildren and grandparents were awash. And to transport two generations from a completely different era, near a hundred years on from the First World War, into that story, through that moment of magic, means that's what holds you in the story anyway.

The first time I galloped, I just burst into tears – it felt as close to flight as I was ever going to get...
It's about the horse – it's always about the horse, as it is in our film. And I completely concur with what Tom's saying – that's my favourite moment for the same reason. You have everything that symbolises No Man's Land, this weird bit of dead land between two bodies of men that's being fought over and this living creature in the middle of it and both of them have a care for it and the human side of either of those things meets to try and save this animal's life. And it brings you back, well before this story even, to the idea of what horses have meant in our history and in our journey as a species.

We've been together for a long, long time, ever since we stopped being herd prey animals and started hunter-gathering, we've used them to do our work for us and we owe them a great debt of gratitude apart from anything else and it's an incredible filter to see not only the inhumanity of war but also the treatment of animals and how that's a reflection, as I think it is throughout all nations, of human rights abuses and any kind of treatment of man on man. You can see that metered out in a nation's treatment of animals. And yeah, I've gone onto rather a meta-answer there – let's talk about social evolution!
What about horses? Did either of you have experience of horses before?

Benedict Cumberbatch

Not really, no. I rode a bit when I was 12, just to keep my mum happy when I was a bored schoolboy on holiday, but I wasn't very good at it. They're incredible creatures when you communicate properly and I think I was just frightened and they got that and pissed about. But I hadn't ridden again – I hadn't ridden before for a job, so Tom, you take over, because you had ridden for a job ...

Tom Hiddleston

I'd ridden a bit in Thor, actually. There's a sequence where the Asgardians ride out across the rainbow bridge and we were really riding on a beach in Southern California and they CG-ed in the rest. But the experience of shooting that, obviously, I had to do a little bit of training and I was taught by some old cowboys in Simi Valley who worked on all these westerns back in the day and they had these amazing horses. So I learned up and down dried up riverbeds, in the company of coyotes and rattlesnakes. And the first time I galloped, I just burst into tears – it felt as close to flight as I was ever going to get, the miracle of human flight. It feels like flying.
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Content updated: 24/08/2019 15:58

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