6 DAYS

On set of the real-life siege thriller as Jamie Bell goes full Lewis Collins.

Empire (UK) - - CONTENTS - WORDS PHIL DE SEMLYEN

A SMOKE GRENADE’S throw from Hyde Park, Kens­ing­ton’s Price’s Gate is about to re­live its vi­o­lent past. A pis­tol-bran­dish­ing ter­ror­ist emerges onto its el­e­gant, white-faced 19th­cen­tury ter­race, scream­ing threats as ex­tras scurry to safety be­low. The anachro­nist ef­fect of this set-up from ac­tion-thriller 6 Days is of a Re­gency-era ver­sion of Zero Dark Thirty. Only two un­marked SAS tran­sit vans and an ar­ray of dodgy ’taches re­mind us that we’re in May 1980 at the height of the Ira­nian em­bassy siege. “It’s an al­most spir­i­tual thing film­ing in the real place,” says di­rec­tor Toa Fraser. “It’s hard to repli­cate.”

While the film’s in­te­ri­ors were shot on Auck­land sets, ev­ery­thing else in 6 Days un­folds where it hap­pened. And for one of those scur­ry­ing ex­tras, it’s all eerily fa­mil­iar. “They’ve given me a job as a me­dia per­son be­ing evac­u­ated,” ex­plains Rusty Firmin, a key mem­ber of the SAS squad dur­ing the siege now moon­light­ing as an ex­tra. An ad­vi­sor on the project, Firmin worked his on-screen al­ter ego, Jamie Bell, hard be­fore film­ing started. “He was very spe­cific about the po­si­tion of my feet when I went to shoot,” re­calls Bell. “Ev­ery­thing I do is co­or­di­nated in a dance way. He’d say, ‘Rusty doesn’t dance, pal.’”

Film­ing near the ac­tual Ira­nian em­bassy has, says Bell, been “in­tense”. “I went to look in­side and this guy told me to get away,” he re­calls. The sen­si­tiv­ity is un­der­stand­able: six Khuzes­tani gun­men held its staff hostage for al­most a week, while a po­lice ne­go­tia­tor (Mark Strong) bar­gained with them and, out­side, the BBC’S Kate Adie (Ab­bie Cor­nish) re­ported to a rapt world. Next door, Firmin’s team awaited the or­der to as­sault.

De­spite the MP5S and stun grenades, 6 Days swerves the gung-ho SAS porn of Who Dares Wins. “I wasn’t in­ter­ested in a film about glo­ri­fy­ing vi­o­lence,” says Bell. Nail­ing the au­thor­ity of an SAS leader prompted soul-search­ing too. “I’m 5’7” and have a his­tory of bal­let danc­ing,” he laughs. He needn’t have wor­ried. “If I was to pick any­one to play me,” says Firmin, “I’d pick him.”

Top: Po­lice ne­go­tia­tor Max (Mark Strong) gets ne­go­ti­at­ing; Mid­dle: Kate Adie (Ab­bie Cor­nish) re­ports as events un­fold;

Bot­tom: Jamie Bell takes notes from di­rec­tor Toa Fraser;

Main: Rusty Firmin (Bell) leads the charge to take down the Khuzes­tani gun­men hold­ing staff hostage at the Ira­nian em­bassy in Lon­don, 1980.

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