I play Solomon Kane, a 16th Century Puritan avenger, in an origin story that Mike [Bassett, writer/director] fashioned from Robert E Howard’s short stories and poems.
So what was your preparation for the role?
I did a month of reading everything that RE Howard had ever written, the second month I spent researching puritans, and then we went into the training. Stephen, an ex-Romanian special forces guy, would kick me out of bed at six o’clock every morning for ten weeks to do two hours in the gym, four hours of sword-fighting, four hours of horseback work, and then another two hours of cardio.
Did that pay off during the shoot?
I turned up incredibly fit, which was good because it was not an easy shoot; if it wasn’t raining we were in six inches of mud and it was minus ten degrees most days. When you would sit down between takes, if you weren’t careful your clothes would freeze to your body.
It is an unflinching portrayal of the violence but also of life at that time…
I think if you’re not going to do it properly and hold a mirror up to nature, then don’t do it at all. We were doing a lot of slashing with swords and I didn’t believe they would go through three layers of leather clothing so Mike picked up the phone and said: “We need a dead pig carcass.” So a pig arrived the following day – it was dead already, it was going to be eaten – and we strung it up on the set, in costume, and set about it. We found out that if you slash you might break bones but it isn’t nearly as effective as stabbing!
So where do the sequels stand?
I have signed up for three films, and a lot of the Howard stories take place in Africa where he becomes friendly with an African guy called N’Longa, who gives him a magic ju-ju staff, so that’s where we’d like to go.
So what’s next?
Now I’m doing Ironclad, which is about a siege in 1215 and then I am doing John Carter Of Mars, which is set in the American Civil War and simultaneously in the future on Mars.
Solomon Kane is available to purchase on DVD from 28 June 2010.
This article originally appeared in the print edition of SciFiNow, issue 39 by Alasdair Morton. To buy a copy of the magazine or subscribe, go to www.imagineshop.com, or call our subscriptions hotline on +44 (0) 844 844 0245.