SAS Rogue Heroes: Alfie Allen interview

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Continuing our SAS Rogue Heroes series of BBC interviews is Alfie Allen, previously best known for his role on hit series Game of Thrones.

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What was appealing to you about this project?

The fact that I get to play a real person is always something that gets me going as an actor. 

Obviously there is a freedom to being able to just create your own character out of something totally fictional, but when you are playing a real-life character there is a framework to go from and a blueprint to work with.

On top of the fact that Jock was a very respected individual in his time, he was maybe considered a little bit of a maverick in the sense that his methods weren’t even tested really, let alone proven. 

He was pushing the boundaries in terms of what he would make his men do. That would not win him fans but it would later cement his place as a pioneer in SAS history. 

That was definitely one thing that really attracted me towards playing him – he was such a revered character in the SAS.

Were these the most extreme conditions you’ve ever filmed in?

I have shot in very cold conditions before so this was the polar opposite to that. I have to admit that I just lapped it up, I just loved it. 

Apart from the two to three day period where I was suffering from heat stroke and food poisoning at the same time… that was not nice.

I’d say the one day that really sticks in the memory for me was in episode three when me and Mike Sadler, played by Tom Glynn-Carney, meet. That day was 53 degrees Celsius, it was super super hot. 

The environment we were working in definitely lent itself to a kind of forced method acting.

It was a test of physical and mental endurance without a shadow of a doubt. We were in these insane conditions that obviously the real life story would have taken place in, but of course there would have been way, way more to deal with back then than we as the actors were dealing with.

Was there a sense of camaraderie between the cast? As soon as we got out there it really did become a thing of everybody looking out for each other. 

Obviously we would all sit around and play poker together and whatever extra-curricular activities after the shoot would take place. But we all really looked out for each other in this sort of alien environment, it really bonded us. 

Once we got out there, that was really the only time we all got together as a crew and started to sort of get the feeling of being brothers in arms. We started doing the drills in the mornings, and yeah just always checking in with each other. 

Making sure everyone was drinking enough water, eating enough food and it was a lovely environment to be in.

What do you think were the special qualities or attributes of the original SAS members?

Who knows, really? For me one thing about Jock that I found very fascinating and interesting – and I think actually a few of them do have this – was being raised in a kind of traditional religious household. 

And then they had this sort of yearning to go and be in a battle field, in a life or death situation. Two just totally different ideals there, but they match up to create this fearsome soldier you know. 

I think that is a quality that enables Jock to go out there and be this machine of war.