Firmin was one of the SAS operatives who stormed the South Kensington embassy after the 6-day siege, saving the lives of 25 hostages. One hostage was sadly killed by the terrorists. Filmed and broadcast on TV news, the event gripped the nation, and it was the first time the SAS had ever been seen in action on British soil.
Firmin acted as a technical advisor on the film, and speaking to Yahoo Movies, Bell says his input was invaluable. He also revealed that he was shot at – with blanks – while rehearsing the film’s meticulously recreated climax: the storming of the embassy.
“We were running through these ‘sets’, these mock-ups of the buildings,” Bell explains in our video above.
“And they would have other people from the armoury department in there, with blank rounds. We didn’t know where they would be. They would just pop up and just start firing at us. It was the closest I could ever imagine to being in a firefight.
“Your heart is racing, you can’t really breathe, because you’re wearing the respirator. You can’t really see because your visor fogs up, and these are things you don’t really consider. We would run these drills, and you would see grown men take off their masks and just be heaving from exhaustion.”
‘6 Days’ is told from three key perspectives: the terrorists and their discussions with Mark Strong’s negotiator Max Vernon, the SAS preparations with Rusty Firmin and his men as they get ready for their big moment, and from the view of the British press who watched the event unfold in real time, led by the BBC’s Kate Adie (Abbie Cornish).
Bell says, even though he was born after the event took place, he was keenly aware of the cultural impact of the siege in the national consciousness.
“The images of those men dressed in black with the masks on, abseiling down this pristine white building, going into combat on the streets of London, I was very aware of. It’s an image I remember seeing as a kid, being inquisitive about it, because it felt very un-English. It felt like an event that happened somewhere else, not in this country. That just stayed with me.”
‘6 Days’ is available to stream on Netflix from Friday, 3 November.