SAM CLAFLIN SPEAKS
The Journey’s End star reflects on the horror of war
ON... LIFE IN THE TRENCHES
My dad is somewhat obsessed with history, especially the First and Second World Wars. I thought I had a good understanding of what it was about from watching documentaries growing up — as an actor you want to say, “I know what it felt like to be in trenches.” But of course we don’t have a clue. But filming in the mud and with the weather being very unpredictable, it does help you to imagine.
ON... HIS FAMILY CONNECTION
I’ve [looked into] my family history and found my great-great grandfather was in a battalion posted to the Battle of Saintquentin, which is what we’re depicting. I’m now trying to find out his exact movements.
ON... HIS PREPARATION
The script we’re dealing with is different from the play. It’s taken from the book, so [my character’s] fleshed out a little more. I’ve been fortunate enough to explore both a good captain and a good man, as well as the broken man you probably know from the play. The alcohol is, I don’t know, his teddy bear, almost. I’ve worked out a diary of how drunk he is out of 10 in each scene.
ON... SPEAKING TO VETERANS
We were fortunate to sit down with a few vets who suffer from PTSD. Certainly for my character it’s useful. Stanhope is suffering from combat stress reaction — he’s in the thick of it and reacting badly, which is why he turns to the drink. One of the guys we spoke to had lost a leg. He said, “That’s easy. People can see it. They can relate. It’s this fucking thing up here I can’t talk about.” They push their loved ones away. They were three of the heaviest and most moving hours of my life.