Mak­ing a Mas­sacre

Peter­loo’s stunt co­or­di­na­tor Steve Dent on build­ing a blood­bath

Empire (UK) - - ON. SCREEN - ian freer

1 got ac­tors to ride

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“When I first heard about a Mike Leigh ac­tion se­quence, I thought ‘Hello, are we go­ing to sit down in a li­brary and throw books at one an­other?’ The first thing he said was I want all my ac­tors to ride. I sug­gested when he au­di­tioned his cast he’d send his favourites over to me and I’d mark them one-five on their rid­ing abil­ity. He liked that idea.”

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“On the rec­ces, Mike goes off into his own world. I went up to him with loads of ideas and his team said, ‘No, walk away, leave him.’ All of a sud­den he looks up, has an idea and you have a chat about it. That’s how we worked it out — lots and lots of lit­tle con­ver­sa­tions.”

2 talked it through

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“Mike’s got no script. That was a tricky thing re­ally. He had lit­tle bits of card in his pocket. He said, “I don’t want it too vi­o­lent. I want it to be nasty, I want it to be an ac­ci­dent.’ He talks you through it gen­tly and says. ‘Go away and send me some­thing.’”

3 we im­pro­vised

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“It was dif­fi­cult to get the ac­tors to hit the spot with their horses dur­ing the riot. We had 44 horses. It’s al­ways a worry with horses and sup­port­ing artists that some­one is go­ing to get trod­den on. We were very lucky, we walked away un­scathed.”

4 PLAYED IT SAFE... 5 …BUT NOT TOO SAFE

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“I’ve done lots of bat­tles with peo­ple fight­ing but this was peo­ple just bash­ing the shit out of peo­ple. The yeo­manry were just thugs rid­ing over peo­ple. The Hus­sars came in and gave ev­ery­one a tune up. If we made it look like car­nage, happy days.”

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