Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Cutting-Edge Hero; Coming Soon: Ironclad

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Cutting-Edge Hero; Coming Soon: Ironclad

Article excerpt

Byline: Kate Whiting

JAMES Purefoy admits he finds it hard to remember which era he should be in.

Taking a quick break from rehearsing Terence Rattigan's World War II play Flare Path with Sienna Miller in the West End, he says: "My head's in 1942 in a hotel on the edge of a bomber airfield in Lincolnshire."

Purefoy is a master of the costume drama and best known for playing the dashing, lustful Marc Antony in the short-lived TV series Rome.

In his latest film IRONCLAD he whizzes back in time to the Middle Ages to help tell the story of the siege of Rochester Castle, 1215.

King John (Paul Giamatti) has been forced to sign the Magna Carta after a revolt by his barons but refuses to honour it and raises an army of mercenaries to regain total power.

Meanwhile, Baron Albany (Brian Cox) gathers a motley band of seven men to stop the king.

Rochester is the only castle that lies in the king's path to London and victory, but can the seven defend it long enough for the French to arrive and save the day? Purefoy is Templar Knight Marshall (pictured), a man wracked with guilt over the atrocities he committed during the crusades - and who comes equipped with a trusty longsword.

"I'm very good with a sword now and I think that's what the producers like," quips the 46-year-old.

"People need to feel safe their leading man can dismember somebody at the flick of a switch."

Admitting that he takes up fencing in his spare time to keep his hand in, he found the long sword a very different weapon from the rapiers and short Roman swords he's used to.

"You can chop a man clean in half with a longsword and there's an awful lot of spinning involved, it's like a dance," he says. "It's so heavy, it just keeps coming and you have to hold on behind it, which was why we called it Florence, because once you'd set it in motion, you had to go with the 'Flo'."

Purefoy says his 14-year-old son won't be watching the film but defends the violence -which includes men being chopped in half.

"I do think the violence is extreme, but if you're going to try and make a film about something that's brutally violent, what's the point of not showing the brutal violence? …

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